Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino; 2006)
Rated 8 of 10
This album takes us to a gritty and dreary world of inhabited by alienated and violent people. It’s a fast-paced romp into the dregs of northern English nightclubs. Ironically, it’s the furthest thing from dance music. It rocks. Guitars combine clean and trembling riffs with heavily distorted power chords mixing hard rock angst with psychedelic riffs. The most amazing part of the album, however, is the vivid lyricism of Alex Turner. Turner is very much in the world he describes and he has an exceptional way of placing listeners right in the action. The descriptions of pimp and prostitute in “When the Sun Goes Down” are told casually and with unmatched clarity. In “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” Turner shows the lifelessness of a dirty clubs pumping house music, where “there ain’t no love, no Montague or Capulets/Just banging tunes and DJ sets/Dirty dance floors and naughtiness.” “From the Ritz to the Rubble” retells a violent 86ing (“He’s got his hand in your chest/He wants to give you a Tupp/Well secretly I think they want it all to kick off/They want arms flying everywhere and/Bottles as well it’s just/Something to talk about/A story to tell”). Turner seems to reserve most of his disdain for hipsters. He takes particular aim in “Fake Tales of San Francisco” (“There’s a super cool band, yeah/With their trilbys and their glasses of white wine/And all the weekend rockstars are in the toilets/Practicing their lines”). Whatever People Say I Am is the fastest-selling album by any band in the United Kingdom. The Arctic Monkeys are international stars. This was their first. Miraculously, they’ve only gotten better.
All albums reviewed in this space are available at Maui’s only record store, Requests (10 N. Market St., Wailuku, 244-9315)