Image: Arctic Monkeys
Few have rocketed from nothing to the deity of a scene as convincingly or as quickly as the Arctic Monkeys did with their 2006 debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (stream below on Spotify).
The band played relentlessly around Sheffield, just doing their own thing and handing out free CDs to an adoring fan base. Those lucky recipients set the wildfire free from south Yorkshire by sharing it on MySpace, the band's already speedy rise quickly becoming meteoric. When it came to actually going through the motions of releasing a single like an actual band they stayed as calm as ever, unlike their fans.
'I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor' jumped the queue and got straight in at number one in October 2005. How? The hoards of adoring fans who connected with their songs, about nights out, adolescent lust and what growing up in a British city entailed, got behind it showing their new favourite band what they meant.
After a short wait for the album it came in January of 2006 and was exactly what people expected, and more importantly, what they wanted. It had the assault of the punchy guitars. It had Matt Helders battering his drum kit. But most vitally it was laced with a resonating relevance thanks to Alex Turner's gilt-edged poetry about young suburban life.
Take the opening lyrics on the sublime 'A Certain Romance', a track already given away for free in late 2004. Turner rips in with "well oh they might wear classic Reeboks, or knackered Converse, or tracky bottoms tucked in socks", nattily describing three teen tribes in one effortless flourish.
The album, equally explosive and exquisite, followed suit of it's lead single and topped the album charts, breaking records as it did. Whatever... was the quickest selling British album of all time, with over 360,000 copies flying out in the first week.
The release infuriated critics, waiting to laugh at all those who believed the hype when it failed, because it was incredible. The singles lead the way and dominated charts whilst the album continued to sell, and sell, and sell... and sell even more. In the UK, the album has since gone quintuple platinum - over one and a half million copies, in an era of downloads and zippyshares.
The true beauty of this album though, is not the record breaking sales, the phenomenal singles it spurned, or the impact on the industry the band went on to master. It's how it's intrinsically relevant to anyone that's the in their late teens or (very, very) early twenties.
It reflects so beautifully in tone, attitude and structure the phases of the nights out that it was written about. That is how it connected so deeply with a generation. Time will go on. People will change. But this album will be relevant to every generation when its in it's adolescence. Greatness rarely comes much higher than that.
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