March 2, 2006

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Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Domino, 2006

Further evidence of a musically postmodern singularity hits our shores with Whatever People Say... Britan’s latest stab at convincing teen-merica that Hey! a cockney accent and a two-fingered salute are dash-cunning. Arctic Monkeys’musical influence seems nailed firmly in last month’s brashiest laddie-rock to assault American airwaves, namely The Libertines, The Futureheads, The Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines again, The Strokes (like for serious) Public Image Limited for attitude, a skosh of Madness/The Specials on a meth bender for guitar cred, and a healthy dose of The Libertines.

What makes it worse is the label line about their origins. How they never saw a guitar until last Christmas and this ingénueity fuels their bullocks-rocking. They’re all, like 17, have posh-yet-scummy haircuts and yes ladies, they are very single. It’s so unlikely that even if it weren’t a marketing targeted fiction it would render the truthiness of itself moot by the sheer incredulity that wafts off it.

There are two ways to approach this 13-track crunchy-guitars, whiskey and Guy Ritchie dialogue fantasy. You’re either “OMFG! WTF? The Strokes are teh gay!!!111oneoneonelventyone!!Shift+1 Arctic Monkeys \m/_(- -)_\m/ FTW!” in the IM’s of a screamy 15-year-old indie girl who has an inkling that pop music is crap but hasn’t quite realized that dirty neck scruff, Malboro lights and 17-year-old attitude, however titilating, is not a recipe for quality. Otherwise, you see the good tracks herein (“The View From the Afternoon,” “Dancing Shoes” and “Still Take You Home” notably) amongst the toss-off brit-rock that in a month will clutter the Newbury discount bins along with iPod rockers Jet and (suprise!) The Libertines.

BTW “When the Sun Goes Down” has a good hook but “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” only seems listenable because FNX radio has finally convinced you to buy anything they shovel. They’re pretty good for FM radio, but c’mon, people, let’s exercise a pinch of discretion, I mean WTF!?!

C+

— Glenn Given