If your eyes and are ears have been minimally functioning for the last ten months, then you’ve probably read and heard about the Arctic Monkeys. Sure, their demos (which they gave out at their shows because they didn’t feel right selling them) started a frenzy via chatrooms, blogs, and the whole grassroots thing. Sure, they landed a record deal with Domino and sold out the London Astoria last October with all of the fans singing along the words to all of their songs even though they had only released a limited edition EP. And sure, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not became the fastest selling debut album in chart history last month in their native UK when it sold 118,501 copies on the first day of its release.
However the one thing this rapid brushfire of hype tends to overlook about this fresh out of high school (do they call it “high school” in England?) quartet from Sheffield is that frontman Alex Turner is one of the most clever and unique songwriters to come along in a while, who, among others, cites the great punk poet John Cooper Clarke as a primary influence. Turner’s wry and witty lyrics capture the doldrums and temperament of what it’s like to be young, bored, and full of energy. And his smart delivery matches the Arctic Monkeys’ mixture of a jittery punk ruckus and Britpop worthy hooks. People have labeled this group as a “northern Libertines” but that is merely bollocks (see, I know Cockney too) and it appears that these guys know that crack is bad, m’kay.
From the very first seconds of the opener “The View From the Afternoon,” the Monkeys come crashing in with an ADD-addled spunk, tantamount to the feeling of hearing the last period bell ring on a Friday as you’ve been obsessively watching the clock for the last forty-five minutes. Breakout single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” shows the Arctic Monkeys’ guile for seeping in a little bit of a Mod shuffle with its fist pumping, spiky guitars and über-dancey backbone.
“Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured” contains a jerky rhythm that comes across as middle ground between that of Franz Ferdinand and the early Adam Ant records, Turner singing in a more tepid tone of the geezer banter like the Streets. And the guy really knows how to dish out quick and razor sharp slacker jest. Even “Dancing Shoes” is a rebellious call to arms to get a party going as Turner refers to a young lady as a “sexy little swine.” That may be a compliment to a girl in the UK, but I’m pretty sure that here in the States that’ll get you a slap across the face.
If anything, the Arctic Monkeys can really set the mood of being just flat out young and angst-ridden while dishing out some espresso pop bounciness. It may be too soon to label the Arctic Monkeys as the voice of today’s youth but the possibility shouldn’t be ruled out as they exhibit what it’s like to be young, brooding, and graceful all at once.
Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV
The Stranglers – No More Heroes
The Jam – Setting Sons