Here aboard an unflinching wall of hysteria unparalleled in recent times, itâ€™s little wonder that some are slightly sceptical about the Arctic Monkeysâ€™ debut. Weâ€™ve all seen the hype, the almost endless tabloid and broadsheet column inches, the music press talking about the Sheffield foursome in unnervingly hallowed language, weâ€™ve shook our heads in amazement at the self-professed â€˜Arctic Armyâ€™ paying upwards of Â£100 on eBay to see their unlikely looking heroes, not to mention the bewildering fanatical reaction to their live shows. Fookinâ€™ hell even Noel Gallagher has heard of them! So while theyâ€™re uniting â€˜mainstreamâ€™ music lovers and notching up number ones, already the tiny minority on the fringes are giving them the cold shoulder â€“ as Alex Turner rightly predicted, itâ€™ll soon be cool to hate the Arctic Monkeys. Yet to pigheadedly cast â€˜Whatever People Say I Am, Thatâ€™s What Iâ€™m Notâ€™ aside you would miss out on a truly fantastic album.
Barely stopping for a breath, throughout the thirteen tracks and 41 minutes the Monkeys take us on a breakneck ride of unashamedly searing tunes. Lyrically dense, clever and culturally relevant itâ€™s a perfect snapshot of the toils of adolescent life in postmillennial northern England - acne and all. Kicking off with the hyperactive â€˜The View From The Afternoonâ€™ they wittily look forward to the ominous, inescapable goings on of the night ahead, with Alex nonchalantly predicting â€œTonight thereâ€™ll be a ruckus yeah / Regardless of whatâ€™s gone before.â€ How true, and a sure-fire taste of things to come. Without any need of an introduction, the juggernaut of a single â€˜I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloorâ€™ continues the sonic assault before â€˜Fake Tales of San Fransiscoâ€™ narrates a tale of being stuck in a pretentious bar with some self-centred prick prattling on about shit â€œHe talks of San Francisco, he's from Hunter's Bar / I don't quite know the distance / But I'm sure that's far,â€ all set to a jaw-droppingly brilliant tune.
Perfectly encapsulating the awkwardness of plucking up the nerves to approach a bird you fancy (â€œYouâ€™ve seen your future bride / Oh, but itâ€™s so absurd / For you to say the first word / So youâ€™re wantin nâ€™ waitinâ€™â€) â€˜Dancing Shoesâ€™ fuses raw guitars with perfect indie-dance, while â€˜You Probably Couldnâ€™t See For The Lightsâ€¦â€™ with its deft nod to things going a bit â€œFrank Spencerâ€ is so brisk, you wouldnâ€™t be surprised if the lads had had a healthy dab of speed to help them along recording it. This is all before the rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute â€˜Still Take You Homeâ€™, with Alex settling for a girl despite her obvious tangerine appearance â€œI canâ€™t see through your fake tan / Oh ya know it for a fact / That everyoneâ€™s eating outta your handâ€¦ But Iâ€™ll still take you home.â€ Nothing short of inspired.
Thankfully as the album progresses it shows no signs of losing its momentum or impact. After the brief, affecting respite of â€˜Riot Vanâ€™, the strutting â€˜Red Light Indicates Doors Are Securedâ€™ offers more amusing social commentary â€œShe were beyond belief / There was this lad at her side drinking his Smirnoff Ice / Can I buy you a Tropical Reef?â€ before a massive kick-off duly ensues at a Taxi rank. Then, the melodic, bouncy â€˜Mardy Bumâ€™ hits home (surely single three?), depicting the break down of a relationship the lads even show theyâ€™ve got a soft side â€“ â€œRemember cuddles in the Kitchenâ€. Ah bless. Such niceties are obliterated with the uncompromising â€˜Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong Butâ€™, the observation on the grimier side of inner-city life that is â€˜When The Goes Downâ€™ and the ode to bullying, knobhead bouncers and a decaying nightlife â€˜From The Ritz To The Rubble.â€
Ending on a crashing high note, â€˜A Certain Romanceâ€™ wraps things up perfectly, encapsulating within its five minutes everything thatâ€™s great about this album â€“ a top tune, astute quintessentially British lines ("Tracky Bottoms tucked in socks") and plenty of archetypal Monkeys charm. If you were being a pedantic twat and clutching at straws you could say, musically at least, â€˜Whatever People Say I Am, Thatâ€™s What Iâ€™m Notâ€™ is not massively forward thinking, experimental and all that shite, but it doesnâ€™t need to be. Imbued with a stripped-down, unswerving and almost punk ethos this is music from the heart with the words to match. Where they go from here is anyoneâ€™s guess, but for the Arctic Monkeys their time is now.