Arctic Monkeys Retrospective: ‘Whatever People Say I Am….’ Review


In anticipation of Arctic Monkeys‘ new album ‘AM’ (due out 09/09), David Handley is looking back on the indie heroes’ discography, starting with their breakthrough 2006 debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’.

Loud, brash, in your face and brutally honest. Hello Arctic Monkeys and Hello ‘Voice of a generation’ Alex Turner.
“Anticipation has a habit to set you up, for disappointment…” The first line on possibly the most anticipated debut album in history; coincidence? I doubt it. It didn’t disappoint then, but has ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ stood the test of time?

It only takes a glance at the track-listing for this album to see where its greatness lies – ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’, ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’, ‘Mardy Bum’, ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, ‘A Certain Romance’. These five tracks alone would push any album to the brink of brilliance, and when you add in other songs such as ‘Ritz to the Rubble’, ‘View Fom The Afternoon’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Still Take You Home’, you really start to build up one of the greatest albums of all time. Almost every song on this album is an indie dancefloor classic, and that is what Arctic Monkeys’ greatest skill has always been – connection with their audience.

The fact is that most people have been through at least one of the events documented on this album (if not the whole ‘night’) and Turner’s lyrics are so simple, yet brilliantly effective at bringing back all those feelings; excitement before a big night out, meeting girls we can’t get, watching an awful support band while waiting for the headliner, fights in bars, and riot vans. This was the soundtrack to the lives of a generation. Nights out, friendships, relationships – Turner had covered everything here; the album couldn’t fail, and it went on to become the fastest selling debut of all time.

Even listening back to the album now it still sounds as fresh and exciting as it ever did. It’s one of those albums where you can listen to every song and know exactly how you felt the first time you heard it. That’s not to say there are no weak tracks, ‘You Probably Couldn’t See From The Lights, But You Were Looking Straight At Me’ and ‘Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…’ are not tracks that fans will be rushing to put in their top 10 lists anytime soon, but play this album in an indie club and every person will know the words to almost every song, and that is the mark of a classic.

This album proved that all the hype was justified. Arctic Monkeys had arrived and they were about to change British popular music forever…


David Handley
David Handley is a 26 year old from Wolverhampton. He has blogged for Sabotage Times and Culture / Trash among others and runs a Literature blog for The Express & Star. He is a lyric fan and loves all sorts of music, but will always have a soft spot for early 2000's indie. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Augustines, THE XX, Blossoms. David can be found at @DavidHandley on twitter or at his blog -

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