ARCTIC MONKEYS Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im 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 Skinners finer moments, Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im Not has a vaguely conceptual flow to it, a tart travelogue through 24 hours in teenage Sheffield. Its the whole Saturday Night And Sunday Morning gig; fittingly, the album tears its title from that film.
And when its good, its good. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor is jerky, spasmodic rock n roll, taking to the air like the Supergrass who werent 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 albums moral compass points towards correct; its tour through the red light district portraying Mondeo-driving scummy men as the villains of the piece. Its pleasantly surprising to report that the ballads yes, ballads! are more memorable than the rowdy bits. Admittedly, theyre 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). Theres 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 Theres only music so that theres new ringtones and Just cos hes had a couple of cans/He thinks its alright to act like a dickhead.
When it isnt so good well, for me theres a lean patch from Fake Tales Of San Francisco to Still Take You Home that Alex Turners lyrical acuity cant quite bridge. And for all the wild claims that postulate its 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 youre unlikely to be disappointed.