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 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am..

Title: Whatever People Say I Am, Thatís What Iím Not
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Year: 2006
Tracks: 13

It was John Lennon who first claimed that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus - and despite the uproar his statement caused within the Christian community, he was probably right. No artist, save perhaps Elvis, has ever come close to the dizzying heights of popularity as John, Paul, George and Ringo in their heyday. There has been no band quite like them before or since - and so it came as a surprise to all when an unknown four-piece from Sheffield broke the record for the fastest selling debut album, knocking the Fab Four from the top spot and undoubtedly irritating leigons of Beatles fans.

But those ageing hipsters who were sucked into Beatlemania back in the sixties are the same people who think the internet is used to catch fish in the ocean. If they were a little more computer-literate, they probably would have been aware of the Arctic Monkeys - who were taking the music scene by storm through nothing more than word of mouth and online demos. The video for their first single, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, had lead singer Alex Turner warning fans "don't believe the hype", but as everybody knows, it takes very little for exciteable teenagers to be swept up into the hype machine.

That's not to say the group aren't talented. Their thirteen track debut, dubbed "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not", shows remarkable potential in the band that have been dominating the British charts. The Arctic Monkeys owe much of their success to Turner's down-to-earth lyrics, which have been praised by fans and critics alike for describing life exactly as it is - no frills or fancy metaphors. Each song can be easily related to - particularly standout tracks Mardy Bum, which describes an argument in a relationship, and From The Ritz To The Rubble, in which the singer recollects a fight with a club bouncer. Others, like Fake Tales of San Francisco and All You People Are Vampires, will relate more specifically to musicians or those in their own bands, but nearly all are easy to identify with in one way or another. The lyrics are accompanied by some very catchy tunes that you could easily find yourself humming on the way to the bus stop - the whole album is stuffed with memorable hooks and riffs.

It isn't all perfect, however. In light of the demos released before the album, there are a few glaring omissions that are almost inexcusable - most notably Bigger Boys And Stolen Sweethearts, one of the standout early tracks, isn't present on the album. It's worth trawling the internet to look for this song should you enjoy Whatever People Say I Am...You might also consider hunting down the earlier versions of some of the album tracks, as a few of the final songs seem to lack a certain spark when compared to the original demo. The album is also a little uneven in places, with a few uninspiring tracks (such as the opener, The View From The Afternoon) jammed in amongst the otherwise decent songs.

If there's one main criticism to level at the Arctic Monkeys and their debut, however, is that Whatever People Say I Am...is ultimately rather forgettable. Despite the unique hooks in each song, they don't sound all that dissimilar from each other, and within a couple months you'll only be able to recall a few, really special tracks. The rest will all have faded into a hazy blur by the time those exciteable teenagers discover the next big thing. But the album is still worth buying - if not for those few special tracks (look out for A Certain Romance and When The Sun Goes Down), then as a landmark record that not only proves the power of internet marketing and grass-roots campaigns, but also demonstrates how true talent can occasionally surface from within the murky swamp of muck that is the Top 40. This is a band to look out for in the future.

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Buy Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am.. now at Play.com
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