Get Off The Bandwagon

Like over 360,000 other people in Britain, I bought the Arctic Monkeys album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not last week; it seemed as vital an accoutrement to my visit as a cell phone. Having listened to it three times on the iPod over the weekend, I’d posit that it lives up to expectations – those of about three months ago. In other words, it sounds like an extremely young band with an extraordinarily gifted lyricist singing instantly engaging and precociously intelligent songs about the harsh reality of teenage life in the north of England. Those songs, supposedly recorded at the healthily old-fashioned rate of one a day, have been left purposefully rough around the edges, ensuring Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not sounds less polished than its sales figures would suggest.

Whatever People Say I Am, That\'s What I\'m Not

Arctic Monkeys: Smokin’ sales figures. But only time can determine its true greatness.

If I was an 18 year old indie kid, I’d probably consider it the best album of a very short 2006. I might even consider the Monkeys, whose success has been so instant that they’ve yet to make mistakes, the most exciting new band of the last few years. But I’m not an 18 year old indie kid, and no rock critic in his right mind would instantly position an album as crudely innocent as Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not among the Top 5 British Albums Ever. Then again, nobody said that the NME employs rock critics with any sort of mind, right or left, which is why the only British music weekly still in existence listed Whatever People Say I Am… at number 5 in its hastily assembled cash-in cover story last week. The Beatles, Blur, Pulp, The Clash, The Jam, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Specials, The Who…? None of them apparently recorded anything that carries a candle to the Arctic Monkeys’ debut.

This is the kind of bullshit that will kill the band’s credibility quicker than an overnight stay in the Celebrity Big Brother house. We determine “great” albums by a whole range of intangible criteria – and staying power is usually pre-eminent among them. Only fools and the NME proclaim eternal greatness upon week of release.

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5 Comment(s)

  1. Pads Casino

    30 January, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Hmm…first Beatles entry doesn’t clock in until #9….someone’s taking the piss or the NME is desperate to keep on relating to a 15-25 yrd old audience.

  2. snotty moore

    31 January, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Not just the NME. Q did one of these stupid lists (a tautology there) about a week after Ok Computer appeared, and it turned out to be the bestest album ever ever ever.
    But it’s not the NME cuddling t’Monkeys too hard which will kill them, it’s the fact that they’re now proper tabloid fodder. Did you see the centre spread of the News of the Screws on Sunday?

  3. 31 January, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Smokin’ new album. I knew you’d love the music but hate the art work. I have the Long Player and the center of the disc is an ashtray stuffed with fags. Just your thing.

    You don’t get ashtrays stuffed with fags in an i-Pod. And that is a bad thing.

    Long live the Long Player. Will LP’s live longer than the Artic Monkeys?

  4. 1 February, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    The love affair with the young bands and the British Press is nothing new. Thew blew up the Strokes, broke Nirvana, and said Suede was better than Bowie before Bernard even played three cords. Butler’s work rate couldn’t keep up the pace. Maybe we are just too old and have seen it all before. Let’s have a young attitude. Let’s not give a shit.

  5. 14 February, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Let’s see… Pads: The NME wants to keep its 15 year old audience. Jelbooze: No I did not see News of The Screws, though I read “news stories” on their album sales in the “quality” papers. (What do they call those papers nowadays anyway?) McCutcheon: I think you just turned me off buying the MOnkeys on vinyl. And the nice thing about the people at this site is I think we’re all still young at heart even if turning middle aged in reality: we all seem to be “up” for the Arctic Monkeys even though we know we’re not their intended audience.
    Cheers all


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