Their music always feels urgent…relentlessly pushing songs into full-sprint mode. And with lyrics worldly-wise, if not quite world-weary, Turner proves an insightful observer of human behavior, one who manages to transform adolescent tales of love and longing—those twin peaks of rock ’n’ roll—into the basics of existential struggle. The clever quip of a young man under arrest for under-aged drinking, “I’m sorry, officer, is there a certain age you’re supposed to be?” becomes a metaphor for that part of everyone’s experience comprised of mistakes rather than endeavors.
In their early songs, Arctic Monkeys indulge the naiveté of youth: they anticipate betrayals and adopt an ingrate’s attitude about their fans (“’Cause all you people are vampires”), recognizing that such adulation is conflicted and limited (“I know you’re certain we’ll fail”). Distrust of their own precocious fame also centers “Fake Tales of San Francisco,” a Dylanesque debunking of the nervous nightclub scene in which everybody performs by acting like everybody else. The song’s refrain is an improvised exorcism of bad behavior—“Get off the bandwagon/ And put down the handbook!”—and a pitch-perfect nod to Dylan (“Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters”) all in one.
New City Music, a website based in Chicago, has just published an excellent essay on the Arctic Monkeys, chronicling their early success, their breakthrough debut (which sold more copies in its first week than any other record in British history).
The story is worth a read, the only qualm I have with it is that the authors cite Andy Nicholson as AM’s current bass player, and as we well know, Nick O’ Malley has been the band’s bass player since 2006.
The article serves the purpose of paying homage to the band and giving the non-die-hard fanbase a little more background about them in the days leading up to their performances at Lollapalooza and House of Blues.