Monday, February 06, 2006


The good thing about blogging is that I don't have to look any of you in the eye when I admit something I'm quite ashamed of.

So here goes. My name is ****, I'm 42 years old and I love the Arctic Monkeys.

I love the Arctic Monkeys because, pathetically, their music reminds me of being in my mid-teens. According to a review I've read they are the most cynically manipulative band ever, using the internet to promote themselves so that their fans can feel that they are are a genuinely underground band that has come up from the grass roots and bypassed the usual record industry promotional tedium, then denying they have ever done this in interviews.

This is all probably true because the first time I encountered them was a showing of the video of the single I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor on MTV2 a month or so before it was released. It appeared to be archive footage from the Old Grey Whistle Test (more specifically, the band had the scruffy anonymity of Talking Heads performing Psychokiller on the Old Grey Whistle Test, except that the bass player had bigger tits than Tina Weymouth, ho ho ho). I was obviously supposed to feel waves of nostalgia wash over me. I'm not that daft. Still, at least it wasn't the far more unpleasant memory of the Police on Rock Goes To College ...

There is a great bit at the beginning of the video where the singer announces "We're Arctic Monkeys, this is I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, don't believe theee 'ipe", then a few seconds where the drummer counts in and then this torrent of NOISE and energy. Over and out in under 3 minutes, of course. This reminded me of being around 15 and loving "Nobody's Scared" by Subway Sect, or "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" by the Adverts, where it sounded as if the world was going to end in 120 seconds. Anyway, it was my favourite single of 2005, not that anybody cares about these things in the real world.

Clearly I have been taken in by the ruthless cynical marketing force behind the Arctic Monkeys, who want the band to appeal to a "wider demographic" than a few fickle students (i.e., creaky old gits who remember watching Whistle Test in 1978 and want to forget that they are creaky old gits). It appears to have worked, as the album was apparently selling the same amount as the rest of the top 30 combined at one point. Considering that the other top 30 album artistes are towering talents like Jack Johnson, Simon Webbe, KT Tunstall and our old mucker James Blunt, there is something childishly and pointlessly thrilling about this.

I really couldn't care less about the hype, the cynical marketing, the fact that of course the album isn't THAT great, or that they aren't remotely innovative or experimental .

Actually, the album isn't THAT great, but some high points are emerging on repeated listens:

The song Fake Tales Of San Francisco.
The way that a lot of times you can't tell when one track finishes and another one begins.
The words to A Certain Romance.
The record sleeve.
The mangled guitar sound which is often like a couple of roosters having a drunken barnyard fight.

I don't care if the Arctic Monkeys follow the usual band trajectory of wasting their money, never bringing out a decent record again, having cocaine addiction problems and ditching their nice girlfriends for pushy glamour models from Hollywood. Just for the moment, in February 2006, you SHOULD believe theee 'ipe.

Right, now I've got that out of my system I can hopefully reach some sort of closure.

(...zero) comments

Gosh, praise indeed.
Nonsense. Of course you'll get comments. You any write about anything these days. Monkeys, pigs..people will respond.

Can't say the AM's stir up that much for me but I did love Gary Gilmore's Eyes back when I was a gobbing punk in Brighton.
I love them too, Betty - and for broadly similar reasons. It sounds like we've both read the same infuriating review of the album, as well.

The album gets steadily better: more varied, less 2-D, and I love the synergy between the band members. Like fellow label-mates Franz Ferdinand, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

To me, there's a fair amount of 1986 "shambling" indie in there - I keep thinking of Big Flame, although I haven't knowingly heard Big Flame in the past 20 years.

I love the tricky time signatures, the twists and turns, the nimble guitar runs, and the way that Alex Turner's voice somehow forces you to concentrate on what he's saying. I'm not much of a lyrics man, and so this only happens rarely, and so I cherish it when it does. (This also happened with another Sheffield citizen: Jarvis Cocker.)

The pathetic level of discourse in certain music-blog-geeky corners of the Internet concerning the AMs hacks me right off. It's like the AMs happened without their permission, and they hate that. To be honest, it's rather put me off those particular corners of the Internet. They can keep their MIA albums - I'll take my chances with the AMs instead.

Marcello @ The Church Of Me does an interesting write-up. I recommend it.
Oh, and I forgot to say: I like the drumming. The drumming is GREAT.
Wyndham - yes, it is a bit frightening to see me being enthusiastic about something. However, my medication levels have been reduced and normal service will resume soon.

Caroline - were you really a gobbing punk? I was too polite and weedy for all that, so I missed out at passing TB on to, say, the bass player from the Lurkers.

Mike - er thanks, that's obvviously a much more articulate assessment than mine (a reason I've tried to steer away from writing about music I like is that I find it so difficult). See what you mean about their sound being reminiscent of C86 bands - I wasn't too keen on any of those at the time but Big Flame were probably the best of the bunch. Oh, and I'm also reminded of the Fire Engines, come to think of it. There's certainly something very striking about them that makes you listen when so many guitar bands produce music which is just a background noise. I suppose any band which is successful is going to attract hatred in certain quarters. I'm too old and out of touch to be wilfully obscure just for the sake of it. There's nothing wrong with liking something which is obvious.

On Newsnight Review (Blimey! Rock 'n' roll!) Germaine Greer said that the drumming on the Arctic Monkeys' album was the best she had heard in years. It's a strange world ...
germaine greer as percussion expert. discuss.

i am too scared to comment after mike's weighty tome on the matter.
Germaine Greer is a pretty good drummer herself, with a physical, muscular style like John Bonham. Mind you, it is a nightmare for her neighbours or anyone else who lives in 10 mile radius once she gets stuck into When The Levee Breaks.
*looks askance at Betty and Mike*

Unfortunately, I'm an uneducated boor from the backwoods and have never heard of these people. However, they must truly be fabulous based upon Betty and Mike's waxing on about them. Yes?

Its good to see people get passionate about their music :-)
I didn't know Germaine played the drums. And last week fifties throwback Mark Kermode admitted he played the stand-up bass, which I thought strange as I always thought he played the prick.

All they need now is Grayson Perry on guitar and vocals and they could go on Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes as the Stray Cats.
Kyahgirl - I used to be even more overenthusiastic about music when I was younger - I would've probably waffled on for pages and pages.

Geoff - Perhaps they could do a two month residency in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.
The best think about the Arctic Rolls is that the oldest member of the band is twenty.

There should be a Logan's Run style cull of elderly rock stars.
Yes, I really was a Brighton punk...but I never actually gobbed on anyone. There's just so far a well brung-up girl can go...
Update! The Monkeys have reached NZ! Heard the dance floor thing today on the radio.
Garfer - I wouldn't go as far as saying that there should be a cull, but perhaps elderly rock stars could be encouraged to move to a retirement home in a very remote godforsaken place (possibly near to a nuclear reactor).

Caroline - if they head any further into the southern hemisphere, will they become the Antarctic Monkeys?

Sorry. That was very puny.
I know I should like them but I can't help that think they sound like the fourth band on at a local talent night in a grotty working men's club. And could someone PLEASE introduce then to spot cream?
I have yet to hear anything by the Arctic Monkeys. I think I live in a tiny virtual enclosure made up of about five blogs (of which this is obviously one) and a comedy chat forum. The Monkeys don't appear to be in here with me. Anyone want to throw one over the fence?
Lost Boy - ahem, I sort of know what you mean and I can only blame it on the fact that I came of age in the late 1970's and still haven't got past the sulky adolescent phase. Anyway, bad skin in pop music is usually a good attribute ...

Patroclus - the videos to the two singles can be viewed at http://www.arcticmonkeys.com/ although the sound quality is a bit weedy. I think there are some other audio things on there but by that point you may well be bored rigid anyway.
Betty, they did a live lounge on Jo Whiley. If you rummage about on the BBC website* you should be able to find them doing their cover version of "Love Machine". Absolute pure genius. It sounds like a Vic Reeves club singer/wedding band cover.

*I know I could find it for you and link but I can't be arsed.
I've had a listen to the BBC website and they did a couple of tracks off the album but no Love Machine (... and because I'm so old I thought that was the Miracles song. Then I realised you meant Girls Aloud. How embarrassing ...). Maybe it will end up on a bootleg somewhere.
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