Arctic Monkeys

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino)

For this week's American debut of the Arctic Monkeys, bullshit deflectors have been readied in droves. And for good reason: The debut's hype, British record-breaking sales figures and critical raves are getting more attention than the actual songs in question, a fact that demands an immediate red flag (yet, strangely, also demands another CD review, now, doesn't it?). So let's concede victory to Domino, the record label that orchestrated an Internet hype machine and got people (including me) to make a fuss, and get on with the songs.

The Arctic Monkeys are a good band, much in the same way that Weezer was a good band in the wake of Nirvana; you can't mention the Monkeys without pointing to their own era's precursors (Franz, Bloc, Futureheads), but they have their own charm and take on the Gang of Four-mula. And by "charm," I mean "Alex Turner," the lead singer and songwriter who takes the semi-wild howl of the Vines' Craig Nicholls and gives it a much more varied backing band, far more interesting lyrics and, sure, a much thicker British accent. Opener "The View From the Afternoon" hops back and forth between dancey fare and start-stopping guitar-riff blasts, while "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" has its pop-punk guitar riffs kicked in the face by a fascination with hair metal. It's all a blender of what you've heard before, but at least the lyrics prove the Monkeys are aware of this; final song "A Certain Romance" laments the lameness of all things overhyped, perhaps even themselves--"there's only music so that there's new ringtones." The Monkeys, young as they are, already get it, and somehow, they've left behind a solid document of '00s rock that will last even after the Internet hype machines run out of electricity.

 
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