ARCTIC MONKEYS Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino)

On what has been hailed in some quarters as the finest debut album since “The Stone Roses”, Arctic Monkeys play like The Streets for indie kids, their relatively standard issue guitar rock rumble spiced with lyrical exotica. Like Mike Skinner’s finer moments, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” has a vaguely conceptual flow to it, a tart travelogue through 24 hours in teenage Sheffield. It’s the whole “Saturday Night And Sunday Morning” gig; fittingly, the album tears its title from that film.

And when it’s good, it’s good. “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” is jerky, spasmodic rock ‘n’ roll, taking to the air like the Supergrass who weren’t from Oxford, all chewed through one of the thickest regional accents in popular music since Catatonia broke up. “When The Sun Goes Down” demonstrates that, for all the lairiness on display elsewhere, the album’s moral compass points towards correct; its tour through the red light district portraying Mondeo-driving scummy men as the villains of the piece. It’s pleasantly surprising to report that the ballads – yes, ballads! – are more memorable than the rowdy bits. Admittedly, they’re called stuff like “Riot Van” (which compresses an encyclopaedia of disregard for authority into two balmy minutes) and “Mardy Bum” (a mild relationship breakdown as direct and pungent as The Wedding Present at their sharpest). There’s also something daring in the way that the album spends a dozen tracks building up the stereotypical teenage experience before knocking it down, “The Wall”-style, with closer “A Certain Romance”, a shrugging, finger-pointing admission of disillusionment, littered with lines like “There’s only music so that there’s new ringtones” and “Just ‘cos he’s had a couple of cans/He thinks it’s alright to act like a dickhead”.

When it isn’t so good…well, for me there’s a lean patch from “Fake Tales Of San Francisco” to “Still Take You Home” that Alex Turner’s lyrical acuity can’t quite bridge. And for all the wild claims that postulate it’s the best debut album since “The Stone Roses”, it remains to be seen just how well Arctic Monkeys’ music will travel or keep. (For my money, it trails behind debuts by Jeff Buckley, Massive Attack, Mercury Rev and Pavement, at least.) But cherish them now now now for their committed tunes and sharp observations and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.