Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Arctic Monkeys' debut hits #1 in the UK: January 29, 2006

Originally posted January 29, 2012.

“Within the course of a year, the [Arctic Monkeys] rose from the ranks of an Internet phenomenon to the biggest band in the U.K., all on the strength of early demos circulated on the Web as MP3s. Those demos built the band a rabid fan base before the Monkeys had released a record, even before they played more than a handful of gigs. In effect, the group performed a complete run around the industry.” STE When Whatever People Say I Am hit the streets, it sold 363,735 copies in its first week, selling more than the rest of the Top 20 combined and making it the fastest selling debut in British history. WK

“Last time such excitement surrounded a new British guitar band it was a decade earlier, as Britpop hit overdrive with the release of Oasis’ 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe. All four members of the Arctic Monkeys were a little bit shy of their tenth birthday at the time, a bit young to be sure, but old enough to have Oasis be their first favorite band. So, it’s little surprise that the Gallaghers’ laddism – celebrating nights out fueled by lager and loud guitars – is the bedrock foundation of the Arctic Monkeys, just the way as it has been for most British rock bands since the mid-‘90s.” STE

However, “the Monkeys’ true musical ground zero is 2001, the year the Strokes stormed British consciousness with their debut, Is This It. The Arctic Monkeys borrow heavily from the Strokes’ stylized ennui, adding an equal element of the Libertines’ shambolic neo-classicist punk, undercut by a hint of dance-punk learned from Franz Ferdinand.” STE

“But where the Strokes camouflaged their songwriting skills with a laconic, take-it-or-leave-it sexiness and where the Libertines mythologized England with a junkie poeticism, the Arctic Monkeys at their heart are simple, everyday lads.” STE “Lead singer/songwriter Alex Turner tells stories from their lives – mainly hookups on the dancefloor and underage drinking, balanced by the occasional imagined tragic tales of prostitution and the music industry.” STE

The recycling of not-so-old sounds and styles can leave the Monkeys’ debut “surprisingly predictable” STE but “the one thing that sets them apart, and does give them promise, is Alex Turner’s writerly ambitions.” STE “While his words can be overcooked – allusions to Romeo & Juliet do not necessarily count as depth – he does tell stories, which does distinguish him from his first-person peers. But it's a double-edged sword, his gift: the very thing that sets him apart – his fondness for detail, his sense of place – may be the quality that makes his work resonate for thousands of young Britons, but they also tie him completely to a particular time and place that makes it harder to relate to for listeners who aren’t in his demographic or country (and perhaps time).” STE


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