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Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Arctic Monkeys)

 article about Whatever People Say I Am, Thats What Im Not (Arctic Monkeys)

Arctic Monkeys

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

Epic Records

Rating: 8

You can almost feel sorry for Franz
Ferdinand. Two years in the limelight and barely three months since being
described as UK's biggest
rock band in Rolling Stone, the spotlight has shifted back from Glasgow to Sheffield.

It wasn't supposed to end up this
way, of course. How could a name as exotic as Alexander Kapranos be displaced
by one as homespun as Alex Turner? After all, by the route that most indie rock
bands, however talented they are, travel, the Arctic Monkeys, consisting also
of fellow Sheffieldians Jamie Cook, Andy Nicholson and Matthew Helders, were
supposed to end up playing in some dinghy English pub every weekend to an audience of fifty
indie hipsters. Heck, for lads who first picked up a guitar and drumsticks
barely three years ago as Christmas presents, a crowd of fifty is a novelty!

But then, the world wide web came
into their life. Even without, the Monkey's demo tapes, were
released onto the internet, under the equally unostentatious title of Beneath
The Boardwalk and eventually Britain got tired of lyrics pertaining to passions
in the dark corridors of an art school and woke up to the reality that every British
male faces at the age of eighteen, that of a night of non-stop partying and
"dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984/from 1984".

If the likes of Oasis and
Blur, perpetrators of Britpop never really touched teenage
give-it-to-me-funkier-and-faster guitar rhythms, somehow their predecessors
from a decade later managed to perfect it. From their first
professionally-recorded song, the infectious "Fake Tales of San
Francisco" to the British #1 hit, "When The Sun Goes

Down", the jocular lament at
the exploitation of girls of the night by their pimps, most songs within the
album clock in before three minutes, leaving the album's tones resonating
before forty five minutes has passed.

Of course, there are disruptions in
that ride and although album sales show otherwise, Whatever People Say I Am,
That's What I'm Not lacks the rugged yet somehow still polished sounding
Definitely Maybe whose sales record it broke in the Monkey's homeland.
"Riot Van" is a whine, best left to emo bands, about police authority
that even Zach De La Rocha would be ashamed off, while the My Chemical
Romance-esque title of "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But" acts
as an excellent forewarning to a rather distasteful

Yet, the mousey-haired Turner,
recently voted the coolest person on the planet by British youths, is endowed
with the same slur in his voice that the likes of Kapranos and Cobain possess
in abundance. It is a voice that's wailing for attention in a very subtle way,
although unlike Kurt, Turner's gripes are more about British life and chavs, as
compared to ghost in his head, and backup vocalist Helders rounds up the wry
lyrics with a voice that keeps the clever songwriting not only respected by
hipsters (how do you beat "and all the weekend rockstars are in the
toilets/practicing their lines") but top 40 connoisseurs as well. Somehow,
the four young men who are barely in their twenties have managed to put out an
introductory album that stands proudly as a fete to working class England.

It seems just like plebeian Oasis,
manifested in a different form as the Sheffield
boys versus the artsy Blur's siblings Franz Ferdinand all over again.
Regardless of whether which band is reduced from "ritz to rubble",
the "view from the afternoon" is a promising one and this time, the
hype isn't altogether off.

Kristiano Ang is the
Publisher of Vainquer Magazine (,
Asia's rock magazine for the world. Residing
in Singapore, he has
profiled and interviewed the Black Eyed
Peas and Good Charlotte.

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