Arctic Monkeys and Warm Nights In
Album #16 : Arctic Monkeys — Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
This album reminds me of everyone’s favourite topic — the past. The songs are about going on nights out, jumping taxis, rubbish college band nights and, of course, being afraid to speak to people you fancy. The experiences in these songs are my experiences (with the exception of that song about the prostitute, I should add).
For me this album was released at exactly the right time. I am the Arctic Monkeys generation. I would listen to lyrics like “anticipation has a habit to set you up, for disappointment in evening entertainment but,” whilst getting ready to go out nights out (that, often, disappointed). There are lyrics about not getting with girls because another guy swooped in and “paid for her tropical reef.” Except, when I went on those nights out — I went to indie clubs and got to listen to the Arctic Monkeys. That’s because this album (including the demos and EP that came before it) launched a decade long obsession with indie music that became the soundtrack to my college and university life.
It is also an important album for wider reasons — or rather the Arctic Monkeys are an important band. They burst onto the scene just at the same time music was becoming widely available on the internet. They were the first truly MySpace band, who grew their fanbase naturally (as natural as an online following can be). I remember being disappointed when the album came out that some of the lyrics were different on album versions from the version I had downloaded off eMule. That is, I think, the coolest I will ever be and I wasn’t even unusual — those demos were ubiquitous. The proper merging of the internet and new music was a big shock to the industry — suddenly a lot of promotors, managers, etc. realised they might not be needed anymore.
Sadly, that came a little late for me and my band (although we were also hampered by the fact that we weren’t very good) but it would have been nice to put a promoter or two in their place. Specifically the guy who didn’t pay me when I brought all the punters to his gig then had the nerve to ask me to replace a pint he’d left next to an open door which got accidentally knocked over. Yes, it was nearly 15 years ago and yes I do still think about it.
I don’t still think about it because I hold a grudge (but seriously mate it was like £3 and if it wasn’t for me you’d have not broken even) — I think about it still because they were halcyon days where a gig was merely the start of the night out rather than its sole purpose. It didn’t matter if you had work in the morning, you would deal with that when it came. Or not, as the case may be (once, a manager asked me if I had been drinking rum the night before because he could smell it on me — my shift started at 2pm).
I am not pining for those days though — my nights of 5am finishes and crawling into work the next day are long behind me. And I am extremely grateful for that. But the album stands as a reminder of the arrogance and indestructibility of youth. Albeit one I am more than happy to enjoy from the comfort of my living room.
Thanks for reading — over the course of 2021, I’ll be reviewing 50(ish) of the greatest albums ever recorded. You can see the list here:
The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time…
Weekly reviews of ‘the classics’ I’ve never bothered to listen to.
There is also a playlist featuring the best song from each album here.