Review Summary: "In 5 years will it be; "Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?"Surrealistic Pillow
and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
- Everyone knows these 2 albums. They're classics. Now, these are two very different albums regarding their approach to music, but they both reflect the spirit of a growing generation within their respective time and place. It's tough to say whether these these two albums were a product of their environment, or a product that influenced their environment. Whether we're talking about the hippies of San Francisco, or the Punk movement of the 70's, these albums became anthems to the young listeners that supported their respective movements.
Now, here we are in a new millennium. And a new movement was slowly growing throughout the world, but it was being defined in New York and several European cities. Only this movement was really more of an amalgamation of past trends. The Post-Punk Revival movement grew from the underground and began to take over the Rock and Roll mainstream, with acts like The Strokes and The Libertines leading the pack. And like Surrealistic Pillow and Never Mind The Bollocks, several Post-Punk bands began trying to write albums that captured the spirit of this new generation. The Stroke's Is This It
, is perhaps the anthem of the Post-Punk/Indie scene as the music, and the band members themselves, hold true to everything that defines the Post-Punk Revival trend ranging from their retro fashion sense and apathetic attitudes, to their 70's Garage rock sound.
As the Post-Punk scene grew larger, countless acts began getting record deals by incorporating similar recipes of catchy arrangements of power chords, loud drumming, and lyrics inspired by the awkward, and at times strenuous experiences that one encounters as a young adult. To be honest, Arctic Monkeys came a little late to the scene, but yet they still managed to garner attention. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
, uses the same musical formula that I had already mentioned, and doesn't really bring anything new to the Post-Punk scene. But nevertheless, the album became a huge commercial success and grew to be widely popular. But why? How could an album whose music hardly separates it from the other bands of it's genre become so popular? Well, it's music related to it's fan base. It's such an amazing sensation when we discover music that immediately has an impact on us and It's even more enriching when we discover an artist whose music is something we can relate to. Whose lyrics seem to reflect our own experiences as if they were peaking through a window into our lives and writing lyrics about what they saw.
Alex Turner has such a gift for translating all of the colorful experiences of youth into lyrical poetry. The sexual and social awkwardness, relationships, personal insecurities, and the uncertainties of the future that are constantly waving over our heads; this album could be considered the soundtrack to the life of any teenager. This is the reason why this album became so popular, because it captured the habits of a new generation. "The View From The Afternoon"
, for example, tells the story of young teenagers who are looking to get drunk and have sex, while being driven by their yearning for excitement. The rebellious nature of youth fuels the energy of the album, while it's loud and aggressive sound represents the frustration behind the conscious awareness of that little freedom one has as a teenager. Songs like "Dancing Shoes"
and "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor"
, perfectly capture that overwhelming yearn for a good time. Teenagers are bedeviled by a constant feeling of boredom, which often possesses them to engage in mischievous acts like the ones described in "Riot Van"
As for the instrumental compositions, this album contains nothing more than frantic pop-songs, but the band does display a conscious dexterity that is beyond their years. The string arrangements are definitely the main strength behind the music of the Arctic Monkeys. The guitar sound in "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured"
and "Dancing Shoes"
, for example, are relentlessly seductive. Another interesting observation one may find is that there are subtle hints of musical styles the band would explore in their latter releases. The soft guitar ballad, "Riot Van"
, contains some elements of Psychedelia in it's latter portion. While "Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But.."
displays some elements of borderline Prog-Rock effects in it's midsection that give out a menacing atmosphere, reflecting the musical approach of Humbug.
This is a solid debut and an introduction to a band with immense talent, but there isn't much here for anyone of an adult mentality. There is very little diversity in the lyrics. If Alex Turner isn't describing a narrator who is plotting out their sexual advances for the night, then he's describing a group of teenagers scavenging through the city looking for nightclubs that will accept their fake ID's. There's very little appeal here for older audiences, but I suppose the band cannot be blamed for the lack of variety in the topics discussed in their lyrics. The band that is being introduced here are in their late teens, so it's not surprising that the music will reflect their age. But don't get me wrong, the lyrics are articulated quite well. Their melodious arrangements are often infectiously catchy, the vocal deliveries in "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights But You Were Staring Straight at Me"
come directly to mind.
Earlier I mentioned albums like Surrealistic Pillow and Never Mind The Bollocks, and how they're considered classics because they captured the nature of the young audiences that associated themselves within their respective scenes. Now, is "Whatever People Say" a classic? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some consider this album to be the voice of Britain's youth, others see it as an overrated album that received more hype than it deserved. Quite frankly, I suppose my own opinions on this album are conflicted. Though I can see why many have fallen in love with the album, I can also see why others don't particularly care for it. I, being an Arctic Monkeys fan, rarely find myself coming back to this album preferring the more mature content of their latter releases. But nevertheless, it's a solid album from a band that would one day grow to become one of the most respected acts in modern music.