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Arctic Monkeys "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" Retrospective Review

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

9.5/10

Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not - Retrospective Review


2006 was a good year for the world of alternative rock with groups like Muse, Death Cab For Cutie, The Raconteurs, and The Kooks all putting out their arguably strongest records, but no group took center stage more than Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys. With one of the strongest debut records of all time, The Arctic Monkeys mashup of garage rock and punk rock took the world by storm which already had their eyes turned on them following two singles which saw loads of commercial success across the world but especially in the UK. A perfect compilation for angsty youth, and those disgruntled with the over-success of britpop and the soft indie music which filled the pop culture world at the time. An explosive revitalization of hard hitting British music with a special focus on being a young adult, going out to bars, getting into trouble, and just trying to figure it all out. This record marked the starting point of years of SERIOUS commercial success for the Arctic Monkeys.

About as far from the britpop sound as you could possibly get, Alex Truner and the Arctic Monkeys had a lot to say on the album with 41 minutes of solid explosive punk influenced rock music. Tracks such as I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor are filled with hard hitting British attitude and showcase the fantastic and powerful drumming of Matt Helders. An electric distortion-riddled ascending guitar line powerfully brings the band into the awesome and angsty tune. The other leading single from the record When the Sun Goes Down holds the same level of energy following the guitar and vocal only intro, where Turner sets the stage for the story he is about to tell. With a nice reference to Roxanne and her "red light," along with girls of the night and other undesirables, When the Sun Goes Down captures tales of the working-class English night life with undeniable authenticity and indignation. Catchy guitars and powerful drumming put this song somewhere on a list of the top indie rock songs of the decade.


High intensity tracks are matched with less loud and more groove-oriented tracks such as Mardy Bum and Fake Tales of San Fransisco with the skilled and tasteful guitar playing of Alex Turner and Jamie Cook. Matt Helders creative and tasteful drumming with those subtle hints of Stuart Copeland of the Police come through real well on the slightly softer tracks showing off his natural feel for a solid groove, but one that is still exciting and fun enough for him to play. Helders finds himself with great chemistry with the guitars on Dancing Shoes hitting all of the rhythmic cues with them, an almost jazzy technique, and something that you really only hear from bands that have been playing together for some time before their first release. No doubt though, the drums steal the show on From the Ritz to the Rubble.

The debut record was not overblown at all, and it truly deserved all of the hype it received. Although Arctic Monkeys listeners are generally divided over this and AM for their what their best album is, it would have to be the debut, but not by much. A nearly perfect debut filled with more chemistry than most bands would hope to have in an entire career. A truly authentic, and solid rock album all round. With one album, these guys had made themselves one of the premier bands of the post-punk revival, right alongside Interpol, The Strokes and The Libertines, adding to the revitalizing of the louder side of British alternative and indie rock. You'll keep coming back to these songs, they just don't seem to get old.


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