I avoided paying any attention to the Arctic Monkeys at first because of all the media hype. No sooner had the Kaiser Chiefs come along than everyone was looking for the next big thing, and they were all saying it was the Arctic Monkeys. But after I’d heard their single When The Sun Goes Down a few times and liked the fact it actually seemed to have lyrics, and some good guitar playing, I thought I’d give their album a go. I’m really glad I did.
Every so often I find myself wondering if there can ever be anything new in music. The history of the sort of music I’m into is the result of a series of nuclear reactions as different cultures and technologies collide, fusing into something new. The Blues had a baby and they named it Rock’n’Roll. But surely there’s a limit to all this? The world’s only got so many oppressed minorities whose authentic forms of musical expression we can absorb into the workings of the Great Western Pop Machine. (Good name for a band, that.)
Now, the Arctic Monkeys aren’t anything new, really. They play rock. (Or Alternative & Punk as iTunes would have it, but I always change that to Rock, which is what it is.) But they’re fresh and vital. They’re doing things their own way. This is particularly noticeable in the lyrics, which are about the world as they see it, not some regurgitation of the standard pop cliches. There’s a real feeling of breaking out against the old order, particularly in Fake Tales of San Francisco and Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But… (They have great song titles, too). Basically, they come across as a band with a strong belief in what they do, and it’s only when you hear it that you realise how rare something like that is, even among the big successes of the industry