40 Days of Rewind: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)

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Released on 23rd January 2006, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, was the debut studio album by the Arctic Monkeys. Selling a whopping 360,000 copies in its first week, the album has now reached 5x Platinum. The album was named after the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning after the band noticed similarities between the content of both; the big night out and the dreaded next morning and a mixture of love affairs.

The album starts with punchy track ‘A View From the Afternoon’ demonstrating straight away the bands heavy guitar and drum combo, with incredibly distinctive riffs. The song also paves way for the lyrical themes to follow throughout: the ups and downs of a typical northern night out. The band filled a much needed gap in the punk rock genre, and developed a large fan base from their EP’s online before releasing their first single.

‘I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ the second track on the album (and if you haven’t heard of it—where on earth have you been?) walked straight into the official chart at number one. Punk rock still reigned and the Arctic Monkeys brutally honest lyrics caught the public’s attention.  The track was a career definer for the band, depicting an insight into club culture in a frank manner that is mirrored throughout the album.

Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I Am Not was particularly crucial for the band as it showed lead singer Alex’s Turners very distinctive vocals, with his Nothern twang, something that still contributes to the bands distinguishable tracks. Still to date there is no other band that has quite matched their unique sound, which also highlights their vast popularity.

Their debut album is also incredibly different to their most recent album AM, which takes the pace down for a more subtle sound. Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I Am Not focusses primarily on a quick tempo, apart from seventh track on the album ‘Riot Van’. ‘Riot Van’ adds more variation to the album, a less guitar heavy track, emphasising the bands range.  The album also features other Arctic Monkey’s favourites ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘When the Sun Goes Down.’ ‘Mardy Bum’ a track based around the idea of a woman getting into a bit of a mood, “That on a day like today when you’re all argumentative/And you’ve got the face on.” The track progressively builds to the nice addition of a guitar solo, and is often a fan favourite.

Concluding track ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ was the bands second single released from the album and also went straight in at number one, and is written about prostitution in Sheffield. The track also builds in pace, reaching the very memorable guitar riff. The repetitive chorus “they said it changes when the sun goes down” proves very catchy, and illustrates Turner’s critical observations on their home town. Once again showing how simple yet inventive lyrics to tell a story, are incredibly effective when combined with such impressively memorable riffs.

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not was a ground-breaking debut album for the Arctic Monkeys. It filled a gap in the punk rock market, and there is still not a band that can match both their studio and live quality, and uniqueness.

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not was released on 23rd January 2006 via Domino. 

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Third year English and History student.

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