What a phenomenon. This time last year no one had hardly heard of Arctic Monkeys yet in the space of 12 months they've gone from being rising underground stars to being the hottest band in Britain. No, wait screw that, hottest band in the world! Don't believe me? look at the fact:
+ They've topped the UK Singles charts twice in a row
+ Their last tour sold out in minutes, resulting in a online bidding war for tickets
+ Their debut album 'Whatever People say I Am, That's What Am Not' has become the fastest selling debut album in British history
+ They've won 'Best Breakthrough Act' at Britain's biggest music awards ceremony, the Brits
+ Their music video for #1 Single 'When The Sun Goes Down' has been turned into a critically acclaimed short film (titled 'Scummy Man')
+ In the summer they've play amongst Rock giants such as The Who, The Strokes and Bob Dylan
+ They've been hailed as the most important British band since the Sex Pistols
Believe me now? well you better cause it's true. Arctic Monkeys are the hottest thing to sweep British music off it's feet since Punk. Sure, we can't ignore Britpop but back in early 1994, the chances of an up and coming Indie band getting two #1 Singles and a triple platinum album were incredibly small. It took Blur years to crack the top 5, and Pulp were hanging round the poverty line at least 10 years before anyone notice they were there. Whilst back in 1977, Punk was a dirty new taboo. Something that people hadn't seen for 20 years, at least since the birth of Rock N' Roll, a revolution.
Arctic Monkeys are:
Alex Turner - Guitar/Vocals
Jamie Cook- Guitar/Vocals
Andy Nicholson- Bass/Vocals
Matt Helders- Drums/Vocals
Not that Arctic Monkeys are a vice, and if they are one million record buyers better start praying for forgiveness. But the Monkeys have created something of a revolution. By putting a bunch cheapily produced demos on the net, they sneaked under the radar when no one was looking and suddenly everyone had an Arctic Monkeys demo banging out of their Mp3 Player. But the first burst of Monkey mania in the mainstream came last Summer when the band played the 'Carling New Music Tent' at the Reading Festival. In which 6,000 people tried to fit into the 500 capacity tent to see the band. From then on it's been #1 Singles and Internet ticket bidding wars all the way.
Arctic Monkeys are a band to fall love in with. Songs to sing out load at closing time. They write songs for me and you. This band are the soundtrack to 21st century British life and they just keep churning the anthems out. Well here's your next hit, a five track EP called 'Who The *** Are Arctic Monkeys' (title of the year, anyone). Four new tracks and one 'classic'.
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor', best track of 2005, no question. Well '...dancefloor' has a darker and faster cousin, 'The View From Afternoon'. Not only did the track provide the perfect opening for the Arctic's incredible debut, it's now been given the centre stage for this new release (as well as a wicked new promo video too). It was great when I first heard it on the debut three months ago and it's still ace now. Fast, angry and unstoppable. 'The View From The Afternoon' bursts open from the first drum role and never stops shaking you around until the final Guitar riff. Turner's vocals are on top form, as shouts off lyrics like his life depends on it (''I wanna see all of the things that we've already seen/ I wanna see you take the jackpot out the Fruit machine'')
. Turner's weary ode to Saturday night urban Britain is a truely brillant Pop record. It sums up everything about England's drinking culture in just 3:43 (Whilst it's taken the government years to realize there was a problem), whilst leaving you begging the stereo for more.
Second track 'Cigarette Smoker Fiona' doesn't mellow out none too quickly either. It's fuzzier and harder then the previous track and sees Mr Turner taking on one of the most important subject in England, the lower-middle class division. Yet again, Turner's lyrics are on top form with the 20 year-old frontman spruting off line as fiery and trueful as ''I never came from no Ghetto, but it wasn't no where near here. Well-spoken Girls in Stilettos aren't something to fear''
. Whilst his band play a toxic and fast bland of grimey Punk Rock.
'Despair In The Departure Lounge' is more heart and soul then fuzz and grime. 'Despair In The Departure Lounge' is a soft and warm-hearted little number about missing loved ones whilst your zooming round the world selling bucket loads of records. The low quality recording style of track doesn't do the song any justice. Shame, as at times 'Despair...' shows off the same grace and beauty as album favourite (and all round great track) 'Mardy Bum'. Thankfully 'No Buses' comes along to save the day. Showing a more Ska influence, 'No Buses' sounds like The Clash and The Specials sharing a rehearsal studio back in 1980. Half-low beat skanking fest, half-confused love song (''She thinks she's the one but she's just one in 24'')
. 'No Buses' will put a smile on even the most downbeat soul.
Finally, there's the title track. 'Who The *** Are Arctic Monkeys' is the Monkeys' most personal and open track to date. Turner's lyrics are at there height, Matt Helder's Drumming is as strong as ever and Nicholson's Bass riff is so catchy it should carry a health warning. But the real magic of this track is hiding underneath. 'Who The ***..' shows the Monkeys looking at themselfs and their future problems not just what Mr Turner sees when he's out round Sheffield. It's the Monkeys realizing the on coming backlash, put down on tape. Honest, tough but secretly scared. Turner's lyrics sound like they've been ripped out of his diary and slapped straight into his songbook (''You pushed my faith near being lost/But we'll stick to the guns/ Don't care if it's marketing compromise/Won't crack or compromise'')
. Then when you think you've got the track down as being your average typical Funk-influenced Monkey track. The music dies down and a thunderous Bass line kicks in and in a voice that make Joy Division singer Ian Curtis sound giddy, Turner mutters out ''It's not you it's them that are wrong/Tell em' to take out their tonugues''
. In a nutshell: Amazing.
The 'Who The *** Are Arctic Monkeys EP' has the attitude and intelligence to satisfy any listener who plays it. It also shows there's no sign of the Monkeys slowing anytime soon. As Mr Turner said on track #5 ''Back on the backlash!'' and with that tone who's gonna try and stop them?
Who The *** Are Arctic Monkeys (9/10)
The View From The Afternoon (9/10)
No Buses (8/10)
Thanks For Reading - Senor Whippy (the man who's still trying to work out why people like Tool)