Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

This is an archived post from Wishes on Eyelashes, a previous incarnation of this site.

Not since Definitely Maybe has an album so perfectly encapsulated the state of modern life within 13 songs. Whereas Noel Gallagher summed up the oppression of the early 90’s with lyrics such as “Is it worth the aggravation, to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for?”, Arctic Monkeys capture a more spirited youthful side of England today.

This is very much a record that spans all classes and genres lyrically. It often points to the failings of the working class but very much tongue in cheek, knowing that you have to have been there to have experienced it.

Essentially it is an album of storytelling genius. Like all the best tales, these are things you can relate to, from ‘Mardy Bum’s rant about miserable girlfriends, to ‘Red Lights Indicate Doors Are Secure’s hilarious jaunt about drunken taxi rides home.

It is this rarely told, true-to-life nature of the record which is what makes ‘Whatever People Say…’ stand out way ahead of its competitors. Not many bands can claim to have had a number one with a song centred around their city’s scummy red light district (‘When The Sun Goes Down’).

Nor can many claim to display their thoughts when eyeing up a supermarket checkout girl with such great energy and enthusiasm (I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor). Even the ever more irritating chav culture of Britain is brilliantly exploited throughout.

Musically the album is superb also. From Killersesque catchy dancefloor fillers, stopping guitar based rants or soft-rock moans, every story is accompanied by exactly the right musical setting.

The best, of course, is saved until last. Combining all the great aspects of the 12 songs before it into a bundle of musical heaven, ‘A Certain Romance’ is the kind of song you have dreamed about hearing all your life. “Although they might wear classic Reeboks, or knackered Converse or trackie bottoms tucked in socks/that is not what the point is not/the point is there ain’t no romance around there”, the song starts, with typical up-tempo jolly pisstaking. Perfectly describing that ‘other side of town’ feeling that exists in many cities today, it is simply a modern day masterpiece.

The great thing about this album is it never forgets its roots. “You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham” Al rants on ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’, once again reminding everyone of the stark realism of the country in which we live.

‘Whatever You Say…’ simply encapsulates, relates and reinvents exactly what it is to be British. It is your duty to go and buy it.