Bigger Bands And Stolen Fanbases - A Look At Arctic Monkeys

Never mind the hype, what about the music?

So, a Debut Number one in the singles charts for the Arctic Monkeys. Aside from the hype, marketing and general buzz around the band, what about the music. As, after all, it’s what they’re there for, right?

We’ve got our grubby mitts on a number of live recordings, radio-show spots, and other similar snippets of the Arctic Monkeys - a good opportunity to put together this review of where the band are at musically before their forthcoming album in January. It's worth noting that the LP is already completed, and work has begun on the second album.

A good point to start is the recently released single.

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

The title track “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” is not only a pain to type, but a bit of a instant classic. Getting lots of coverage on the likes of Radio 1, XFM, MTV2 and The Amp has been secondary to the eager anticipation from the bands online fan base. IBYLGOTDF is a great introduction to AM’s style and music. Lead singer Alex Turner somehow marries the slight punk urgencies of The Strokes with a fantastically Northern edge reminiscent of early-era Pulp. It’s a formula that lends itself well to the introspective cultural referencing and name-checking found throughout their repertoire. The ‘Monkeys don’t hold back on the colloquial language and accent – in fact, it’s part of the appeal. It’s clear we’re not meant to take all this too seriously, obvious with lyrics like “Dancing to electropop / Like a robot from 1984”. 8.5/10

Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts

Many of the band’s fan base are up in arms that this track was ‘wasted’ as a B-Side. This seems to be a bit off the mark; good, but not amongst their best. Whilst being one of the original tracks the band gigged with, it seems to offer a glimpse into the band’s past both musically and lyrically. Based around the age-old dilemma of school-age lads losing their prize girlfriend to the slightly older car-owning sorts, Turner is at his lyrical best with near-perfect rhyming schemes and more than a nod to school-English-lesson style poetry. Some of the lazier sections of the journalistic world have made comparisons to the Libertines, perhaps citing the large number of (ex?) Libertines fans forming the nucleus of the second wave of Arctic Monkeys fans. Clearly, this comparison is well off the mark, but there are shades of Doherty here, and therefore probably filling the crack-induced vacuum they have left. 7/10

Mardy Bum

This is almost certainly going to feature on the forthcoming album in January. Forming a part of the set for some time now, Mardy Bum really shines amongst the unreleased tracks available thus far. Mardy, for those readers south of Watford Gap, means ‘petulant, bad-tempered’. Alex Turner has clearly had relationship issues, and he airs his thoughts in this song. Still, far from being a misogynistic rant about the behaviour of women, it is actually quite an affectionate lament. He is suggesting that although his partner (at the time) was fickle and argumentative, she did “have a better side / one which [he] prefers”. By all accounts, the girl in question is busy working away in the local ASDA store in Sheffield, claiming (with some pride) that the song is all about her. Something of a dubious claim-to-fame, but fair enough. This is definitely a fan-favourite, just listening to the crowd singing every single word of the song along with the band, before the track has ever been released is testament to their devotion. We’ve not seen this level of early devotion for some time, but it’s probably a mixed blessing longer term. I can already imagine the NME claiming their third album is weak in comparison to the halcyon days of 2005. This is a point not lost on the band – after all, during their incredible live set on Radio 1 recently, Turner asked the crowd “Will you still love us when they tell you that we’re soft?” There speaks a man very aware that the forces that build you up, knock you down. And they will, Sir. 9/10

Fake Tales of San Francisco

“I’m gonna tell you all my problem / You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham”. Inspired lyrics. Yet, Turner claims this is not a snapshot of Sheffield, and a diatribe against some of the people attracted into the city in recent times, but a general point to be made. Perhaps that’s just deflecting the flak. You see, Sheffield has attracted the new-media, cod-bohemian types, and listening to their tall tales, verbal diarrhoea and hyperbole is hilarious when one is in such a working-class haven as South Yorkshire. You know the sorts – judging a bottle of wine by how much it cost from Waitrose, talking about their third “gap year” teaching English in Sudan. Evidently, social commentary is what Arctic Monkeys do best. Again, comparisons should be made to Jarvis Cocker and his similarly cynical eye for social detail. As the great man said - “If you called your Dad / He could stop it all”. This has ‘third single’ written all over it, and I have little doubt that the type of people targeted by this track will love it in a “post-ironic kinda way”. 9/10

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