Thursday, 13 September 2012

Music: Keep or Cull No.5: Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not (2006)

The critical hype surrounding the release of the Arctic Monkeys’ debut album was just a little overblown - the word hyperbole doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, perhaps the words ‘megabole’ or ‘ultrabole’ might be more fitting.

NME, before it became Heat magazine for indie kids, rated ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ as the fifth best British album ever made - on the week that the album was released. This stunk of the ‘controversy creates cash’ ethos that seems to purvey much of the magazine industry today. Though such lists are always subjective, and always seem to contain the same albums time and again, this struck me as quite a cynical move by NME. Yes, the album was relevant, and captured a perfect snapshot of British life at that time, but no time had been allowed for the album to settle in our collective minds. In a list about the legacy of great music, the inclusion of a new release, no matter how good, just seems incredibly disingenuous. I don’t think I read NME after that.

I first heard the Arctic Monkeys on MySpace. I’m not cool enough to have ‘discovered’ them on there like everyone else claimed at the time, I read about them on a local music website and followed a link. I can remember the first tracks I heard by them: ‘Scummy’, ‘Fake tales of San Francisco’ ‘Mardy bum’ and ‘I bet you look good on the dance-floor’ (this was back when MySpace only allowed you to upload four tracks at a time). I had some software on my PC that allowed me to rip the MP3s from MySpace, and transfer them to my MP3 player. ‘Scummy’ (which was renamed for the album release to ‘When the sun goes down’), was probably my favourite of these tracks. Although I loved the urgency of ‘I bet you look good on the dance floor’, there was something about th slow intro to ‘Scummy’ and the way it built into the main riff that was nothing short of genius. ...

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