The Phoenix Network:
 
 
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features
50bands2011_1000x50_c

Arctic Monkeys escape the pitfalls of buzz

Post-hype sleeper
By LUKE O'NEIL  |  May 12, 2011

AM main
POST-HOOPLA Two albums after the hysteria that greeted their debut, Arctic Monkeys have been happy to slow things down a bit. 

Three for three with critically acclaimed #1 albums in their native UK. Top spots in countries around the world with each release. Early hype for their forthcoming Suck It and See (Domino). That's a pretty good track record. Nonetheless, you might be hard pressed to find anyone who seems overly invested in Arctic Monkeys these days. Likes them, sure. Still bugs out when "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" comes on at the club? Definitely. But that's about it. And it's not just on these shores. I call a London hipster friend to take the pulse of the once and future kings of Brit Rock. "They're just another rock band now," he says. "There's nothing exciting about them. They may as well be Oasis."

Oof. But wait, since when is being like one of the greatest rock bands of all time a bad thing? Particularly when the Arctics' initial claim to fame was an honor held at one time by Oasis, for the fastest-selling debut record in UK history: 363,735 copies in the first week. In the year 2006. The internet, you'll recall, existed then. NME promptly called that record the fifth-best British record of all time — but NME calls everything the fifth-best record of all time.

Maybe we should have been paying more attention. Humbug, from 2009, found the still-young lads exploring their darker, "mature" side. Suck It and See, aside from having an awful title (it translates from the Brit as "Give it a try"), doesn't engender much enthusiasm at the top. "Thunderstorms" finds the band in a slow, churning mode, far removed from the thrilling hairpin guitar turns and even quicker quipping by preternaturally wizened frontman Alex Turner on their most engaging work. On "Brick by Brick," drummer Matt Helders takes the vocal reins for a piled-up blast of mod swagger. "Shalala" fastens a careering guitar lead to a hook that could be a festival-sized sing-along.

But though there's a thoughtfulness here that you might expect from a band who've gone through the indignities of worldwide fame and giant expectations, there's not much to spaz out to — and isn't that what we want from our scruffy Brit rockers?

"Yeah, on the whole I suppose it's a bit more mellow, if you like," says the 25-year-old Helders. "I think the thing was, we probably realized it doesn't have to be a fast thing to be heavy. You can get a lot of weight into a song in different ways than going about it frantically."

That mellowed approach may have come from the record's being written by Turner messing around alone with acoustic guitar. "We did it in a more traditional way, writing lyrics and melodies and guitar chords and all that," Helders continues. "We used to just chuck a few ideas together and build a song out of that."

Not stopping to think about things is what allowed them to move on from the pressure of overwhelming early success. "I think that's the reason we did the second album so quick after the first. If we hadn't, we'd still be worried about it now trying to follow it. We had to do it while the momentum was there before we started thinking about it too much."

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Photos: Deadmau5 at the House of Blues, Photos: Scissor Sisters at the House of Blues, Photos: Social Distortion at the House of Blues, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Music, Arctic Monkeys, Arctic Monkeys,  More more >
| More
3 Comments / Add Comment

Anonymous

i am overly invested in the arctic monkeys
Posted: May 11 2011 at 1:10 AM

Kev Benson

Alex Turner wrote the Arctic Monkey's epitaph five years ago in a song called "Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?".

"...and in five years time will it be? Who the fuck's Arctic Monkeys"....
Posted: May 11 2011 at 4:46 AM

John Tristan

Slightly foolish judging the current reputation of a band on one person's comment. There remains a large amount of people convinced that Alex is still the best song writer of his generation, and that the 100+ songs he's released do more than enough to prove it.
Posted: May 11 2011 at 11:55 AM
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 07/12 ]   Meklit Hadero  @ Johnny D's
[ 07/12 ]   PSY  @ Cutler Majestic Theatre
[ 07/12 ]   Sebago - Long Lake Music Festival: "Hungarian Connection"  @ Deertrees Theatre
ARTICLES BY LUKE ONEIL
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE TASTY RETURN OF CIBO MATTO  |  July 12, 2011
    There's been a lot of talk recently about how the '90s are back, much of it by me.
  •   THE DECEMBER SOUND DROP A SONIC BOOM  |  June 29, 2011
    Sonic mastermind Zack Sarzana (who returned from a sojourn to New York City a while back) and bandmates Jimmy Rossi Jr. and John McGuigan have always had a knack for finding the plot in a vast haze of feedback, occasionally shaping that cosmic stuff into a pop song cloaked in noise; or, at other times, simply laying waste to the room with power blasts of guitar-pedal mayhem.
  •   GETTING A SONIC HIGH WITH RINGO DEATHSTARR  |  June 29, 2011
    The songs from Austin noise-pop trio Ringo Deathstarr — in particular, the devastating dopamine rush of "So High," which features a string of effects pedals marked "MBV" and "J+MC" and twitchy, whorling waves of feedback and call-and-response male/female vocals — have me pressing the play button on my computer repeatedly, like a lab monkey waiting for the cocaine pellet to pop out.
  •   DANCING TO LIFE'S DESIRE LINES WITH LYKKE LI  |  May 20, 2011
    You already love Lykke Li. You may not know that you do, exactly.  
  •   ARCTIC MONKEYS ESCAPE THE PITFALLS OF BUZZ  |  May 12, 2011
    Three for three with critically acclaimed #1 albums in their native UK. Top spots in countries around the world with each release. Early hype for their forthcoming Suck It and See (Domino). That's a pretty good track record.  

 See all articles by: LUKE ONEIL

MOST POPULAR
RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 



  |  Sign In  |  Register
 
thePhoenix.com:
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
TODAY'S FEATURED ADVERTISERS
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group