Arctic Monkeys
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What...


4.5
superb

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
October 29th, 2008 | 162 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The hype is warranted as this is a thoroughly recommended fun debut which contains excellent songwriting, strangely charming vocals & very good musicianship which will have you rocking, tapping your toes & singing along.

Let’s face it… Hype will always exist in the music industry. However, it has to be concerning when such praise is lumped upon 4 young lads barely out of their teens. In any context, how can such a young band be the so-called saviors of music or most important group of a particular era? It therefore comes as an especially pleasing greeting when front-man Alex Turner speaks the words “Don’t believe the hype” at the beginning of the video for their 1st single. Whether it’s a reverse psychology marketing ploy or not, it is welcome and a hopeful sign of maturity and level-headedness.

As if to hammer the point home, the opening lyric of their debut album (tellingly titled ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not') is “Anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment…“. Maybe more importantly is the fact that the song which it leads off on, ‘The View From The Afternoon’, is an absolutely cracking opener. Immediately hooky, the first minute showcases impressive instrumentation as well as effective vocals. Structurally, the song is better for holding its chorus back and while the mid-track halt is a little gimmicky, it thankfully does not result in a padded out feel.

Yet things get better when 1st single and album highlight ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ rollicks along next. An up-tempo cut that includes great bass-playing, passionate drumming and effective guitar-work, this track sees the band at their accessible best as catchy hooks frequent the song. This results in the Arctic Monkeys sounding somewhere between the dance-rock of Franz Ferdinand and the grittier sound of early Oasis, if not something a little more punky.

Musically, the rhythm section of the band is astonishingly good considering that drummer Matt Helders took on the job by default and bassist Andy Nicholson struggled to handle life as a star. The bass drives many of the tracks efficiently and is mixed perfectly, while it is clear to see Helders puts in his all behind the kit. Elsewhere, Jamie Cook’s and Turner’s guitar-work combine well as a team, without being totally outstanding.

Out front, Turner is one of those vocalists that simply creates magic out of what many believe could be potentially cringe-worthy. On paper, his thick Northern English accent should scare many non-Brits away. But in reality, his charm, wit & charisma are significantly appealing. ‘Riot Van’ at the mid-point of the album is the perfect example of this as it is a 2 minute interlude of sorts that contains very little background music. It clearly relies on Turner, who somehow makes it not only act as album variety, but turns it into a darn good track in isolation, as that well-known wry English humor is used to recount a night’s encounter with the police.

Of course, it also helps that Turner is a terrific songwriter and storyteller. The clear theme throughout the album is young men out on the town getting inebriated. Yet, the writing talent does not see the negative aspects of repetition set in at all. It simply is too difficult to not get involved in the tales being told, whether it is settling for women you would not usually be seen with (‘Still Take You Home’), getting yourself home after a big night out (the immediately groovy ‘Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured’), the frustrations of the opposite sex (the sweet & melodic fan favorite ‘Mardy Bum’) or confrontations with bouncers (‘From the Ritz to the Rubble’).

Variety, which cynics could question here, is provided efficiently and subtly through changes of pace and musical concentration. See the more deliberately paced ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ as compared to the more up-tempo 2 minute long ‘You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights But You Were Staring Straight at Me’, which also contains effectively energetic vocals. The only mishap on the album in search of something different is the overlong ‘Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But…’, whose darker distorted vibe doesn’t fit in and sees the band get a little ahead of themselves as they attempt to convey the pitfalls of fame. It is a song which would have much better suited their follow-up EP to be released soon after.

The track ordering is also worth making mention of as it keeps the interest of the listener through to the very end. The excellent 2nd single ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ is cleverly placed as track 11. Beginning methodically, it works into a positively infectious cut that is highlighted by a super effective bass line, as the repetitively sing-along chorus backs up the rest of the lyrical content concerning the low-life’s of the street. Meanwhile, the fitting 5+ minute closer ‘A Certain Romance’ is a strong piece, even if it is too ambitious in attempting to encapsulate the entire album into one track.

When this debut effort was released, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the first week. No wonder, as it is an exemplary album which deservedly won many ‘Album of the Year’ awards. Excellent songwriting and strangely charming vocals combine near-perfectly with very good musicianship to result in a great sound that will have you rocking, tapping your toes and singing along… Often all on the same track. Furthermore, this album is fun, which means it almost has a character to it in itself. Thoroughly recommended, we can only hope that the Arctic Monkeys do not lose too many of their trademark characteristics as they mature.

Recommended Tracks: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, When The Sun Goes Down, The View From the Afternoon, Riot Van & Mardy Bum.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bastard
October 30th 2008


3435 Comments


pretty good review, never paid attention to these guys.

marksellsuswallets
October 30th 2008


4848 Comments


I've avoided this due to all my hipster "friends" that latch on to the newest trend tbh...however, I loved Fake Tales Of San Francisco when I heard it so I guess I should probably look into this album at some point...

And for some reason I always think that's Adam Sandler on the cover...This Message Edited On 10.29.08

AtavanHalen
October 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lolz, it ain't.
It's been so long since I heard this...I thought you would have started with Beneath The Boardwalk for your reviews, Champ?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Max & Brent, I cannot believe you guys have never heard this album. I must say though, when an album/band is hyped so much, it can initially be off-putting. Strangely enough, while most people find 'Fake Tales of San Fran' one of the top 3 songs on here, I think it's pretty run of the mill for some reason. Still very good, but not up there with the best of the bunch. Oh & the guy on the cover is simply a friend of the bands. It was pretty controversial at the time due to some people saying that it glorified smoking.
DavID, even I have my limitations with how far I go back sometimes. I have heard 'Beneath The Boardwalk', but I figured since many of the songs were either on this LP or the follow-up EP, then I'd leave it alone. Have you seen these guys live DavID...??? I might try & catch them at a sideshow when they come out here for the BDO.

bastard
October 30th 2008


3435 Comments


I'm from Oklahoma, so I have an excuse, since all our radio stations play is country music or Nickelback.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I never knew you were from Oklahoma Maxy. The next review I expect from you is Dwight Yoakam or maybe The Best of The Juggs... I mean Judds.

AtavanHalen
October 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKLAHOMA WHERE THE WIND COMES SLEEPING DOWN THE PLAINSSSSSS
Also, no I have not seen the Monkees live. If their sideshow doesn't clash with TVOTR, I'm there.

Circa4life
October 30th 2008


289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

OH! My favorite band of all time! Great review by the way. My top songs would probably have to be.... Riot Van, Dancing Shoes, A Certain Romance and Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No, those lyrics aren't the real Oklahoma. None other than the unforgettable Mr.Big provides those with: "I GOT A LITTLE TOO LOOSE IN OKLAHOMA CITY, DIDN'T CARE IF SHE WAS YOUNG, DIDN'T CARE IF SHE WAS PRETTAYYYYY". lol
OR if their sideshow doesn't sell out in 1 minute flat!
Thanks fro the positive feedback on the review Circa4Life. Riot Van is sooo cool.

AtavanHalen
October 30th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Screw you they are the real Oklahoma

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2008


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. My favs are Mardy Bum and When The Sun Goes Down, but there isnt a bad song

Auldy
October 30th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome album... i love it, i love it, i love it. Not sure if we needed another review of it hehe, but its all goooood. But instead of commenting reviews, i should be finished off my physiology journal which is due tommorow. 1000 words to go!

Spamue1G
October 30th 2008


1292 Comments


Good review, but perhaps slightly more detail on the music needed? I think it's enough for a pos. That contributing reviewer position is definitely right for you, man
I like the Artic Monkeys, but I never considered them top-draw. I haven't heard this album as an album either, please don't kill me!This Message Edited On 10.30.08

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for the positive feedback AliW1993. Apart from 'Vampires...', there isn't a bad song.
Oh come on Auldy. You asked me to do a review of a very good album and I did! :-) Good luck with your journal mate.
Thanks Spamue1G, I think I can spare your life for not having listened to this album. LOL. I suppose it's a fair call on describing the music, although I speak a lot about the fantastic rhythm section & the 'halfway between Oasis & Franz' line was some kind of an attempt to describe a few of the tracks.

Auldy
October 30th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha... sorry. Nah your right. This albums is great. And more importantly, my journal is done! yay...now for exam study. But wait. Fallout 3 comes out tommorow. haha. Yeah someone should do some You Am I reviews, or I'll have to do them. And if that happens they'll all be sh*t. My fav track off this is "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure" only because i can relate to its lyrics so well....bloody taxi drivers!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Man, if we get 13 different commenters here, we could actually get 13 different favourite tracks!!! That song is indeed great Auldy and is a good example of Turner's storytelling skills. Because yeah, we all know how frustrating taxi drivers can be... But hang on, don't you live in Adelaide...??? Why do you need taxis when everything is within walking distance there!!! :-)

Auldy
October 30th 2008


351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good point. But walking around blind drunk can be hazardous to your health. And why projectile vomit into the gutter when you can contribute to the colourful aroma that is the inside of a taxi cab?This Message Edited On 10.30.08

Spamue1G
October 30th 2008


1292 Comments


It wasn't that the music description was particularly lacking, and the 'halfway between Oasis and Franz Ferdinand' description was good, I just thought that maybe there could be a bit more.
Auldy - Haha! Love it... Being sick in taxis is something I should try once in a while

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Walking around blind drunk is darn fun. It is the greatest test of human equilibrium out there. Plus, I've always found that taxis limit the amount of "projectile" in projectile vomiting.
Again, it is a fair call Spamue1. In all honesty, I was a little concerned about the length of this review & I didn't really want it to get any longer. I must say that it is damn trickier to keep the length of a review down when you really like the album.

Whitechapel447
October 30th 2008


25 Comments


lawl bro, i always think it's adam sandler too. when i first saw it in target i thought it was another comedy album by him or something.



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