Arctic Monkeys

Though it seemed unlikely at the time, the perky yet pensive Brits known as the Arctic Monkeys have lived up to (and even outlived) the critical drool fest over their 2006 debut.

Their charming tension is built of contrasts: When the rhythm section is angular and angsty, the guitar might sit back and shimmer; when the fuzz box kicks in, the groove may almost perversely swing. Even when all the instruments fuse into an agitated insect orchestra, vocalist Alex Turner observes wryly from the sidelines, oddly contemplative. And despite their youth and decidedly post-Blur indie-pop instincts, the Monkeys' aura is thick with mid-life melancholy and incongruous curled-corner nostalgia.

Sure, releasing four albums in six years is hyperactive by modern standards, but there's little evidence of a quantity/quality trade-off thus far.


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