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

After sending their debut single, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" directly to #1 on the British charts, the Arctic Monkeys released their first album Whatever People Say I Am That's What I Am Not yesterday. It sold almost 120,000 copies. The album is on pace to sell 200,000 copies this week, doubling the one-week British debut record previously held by Franz Ferdinand. On NME's latest list of the 100 British albums of all time it came in number four. For perspective consider this: Exile On Main Street is #43. It won't even be released here until later in February.

All together now America: The Arctic Whaa?

I'll confess to never having heard of the band until recently and I don't feel too bad about that. I don't think most people on this side of the Atlantic followed the Sheffield quintet's rapid ascent. Not to be behind the times, I downloaded the two singles (and b-sides) available on iTunes last night, including "Dancefloor." So are they that good? I can't tell yet, but I do know that I like "Dancefloor" better each time I hear it and that none of the b-sides sound like throwaways. (Well, "Chun Li's Spinning Bird Kick" kind of sounds like a throwawy, but it's still several kinds of awesome.) From the five tracks I've heard, the band combines a blokes-from-the-street perspective inherited from Blur, The Jam, and young Rod Stewart with a sound very much in line with the whole classic-garage-and-early-'80s-post-punk-remade-as-insanely-catchy-pop moment. I'm impressed so far and I want to hear more. But is it that good? I don't know yet.

The British music press builds up and knocks down band all the time, but this one feels different from the usual hype, and not least of all because the band came up more through Internet word of mouth than the usual channels. I guess time will determine how much different. Anyone else have a take? Can any U.K. readers help explain why the band got that big that fast?


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