Let’s just start off by admitting that the Arctic Monkeys are by no means playing music that is outstandingly different from anything else. As a matter of fact, the music they’re putting out bears lots of resemblence to many contemporaries playing in the same scene to draw commercial attention; bands such as the now-deceased Libertines (though each of the principal songwriter’s has kept their own with their bands Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things) and Franz Ferdinand will often come to mind when listening to the outings of the Arctic Monkeys. There are, however, a number of unique elements to their sound that really stand them apart and above the rest.
The first and perhaps most essential element in the separation of them from other bands is frontman Alex Turner’s teenage-lifestyle driven, storytelling lyricism; an example of the former would be heard in the last song on the album “A Certain Romance,” wherein Turner alleges, “There’s only music so that there’s new ringtones.” The song immediately preceding this (From The Ritz To The Rubble) seems to start in the middle of a story (“Last night these two bouncers/And one of ’em’s alright/The other one’s the scary one/His way or no way, totalitarion”) of the narrator having to deal with bouncers at a club, the night-life that one would expect these Sheffield boys of around 20 years old to be forced to deal with in their late-day outings, reaching them out to a demographic that can relate to what Turner writes about.
Another essential element is how the guitar-driven “punch” of their sound is handled. Right from the first chord of opener “The View From The Afternoon,” the listener is attacked by a full-throttle distortion battle. And, on the album, the band develops a format to their introductions, starting with a simple guitar chord progression/riff that is joined by a catchy guitar melody, wherein the song will shortly shift to the progression played throughought the verse, and Turner will chime his wit into the picture therein. Of course, some songs escape this formula, but it largely exists; and, it does the band no damage as it works. The best example of this formula is probably on the second song and hit single “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor,” containing this introduction formula, paired with teenage-esque lyrics, and completed with lyrics that at one point during the song reference Shakespeare’s “Romeo And Juliet” to the bands advantage. And, this formula is really what makes this album flow together so well. And, that is also how I would reccomend listening to the disc: from start to finish. In my mind, it plays better when you treat it as a single work, being “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” rather than singular songs on that CD.
So, have a listen to it and then calm down with something softer and more soothing. But the point is, have a listen. And another one. And then another.