Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

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

If any single song was going to make British indie-rock sensation Arctic Monkeys into an instant legend, it might as well have been "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," a three-minute shot of nightcrawler frenzy that captures what it's like to be young, hip, and on the make. The song starts in chaos and gradually stabilizes, as Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner puts on his best Ziggy Stardust voice and sings about lust and hope. It's no wonder "Dancefloor" was downloaded so many times off the band's MySpace page, and no wonder it went straight to number one on the UK charts when it got an "official" release last October. The song is everything rock 'n' roll is supposed to be. It's music to go nuts to.


Only a few other songs on Arctic Monkeys' debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, make it into the same class: the comically relaxed lad's-night-out sketch "Riot Van," the wire-tight snot-rap "From The Ritz To The Rubble," and the bouncy, relatively restrained state-of-the-generation report "A Certain Romance." But compared to the thematically and stylistically similar Libertines, Arctic Monkeys seems a little underfed. Song after song returns to the same nightclubs for the same set of cocky put-downs and faintly misogynist come-ons. Meanwhile, the band fumbles through a sound that seems to have been assembled from pieces of retro-minded rock acts like The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, but without the sense of purpose or history. There's something to Whatever People Say I Am, and "Dancefloor" is destined to be a perennial. But when the inevitable Arctic Monkeys backlash sets in, the band's detractors will have a lot to work with.

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