Arctic Monkeys

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Whatever People Say I Am (2006) , 6.5/10
Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) , 5.5/10
Last Shadow Puppets: The Age Of The Understatement (2008), 6.5/10
Humbug (2009), 6/10
Suck It and See (2011), 5/10
AM (2013), 4/10
Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino (2018), 4/10

The Arctic Monkeys set the British record for fastest-selling debut album of all times (yawn). This new improved version of Oasis and the Smiths debuted with Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino, 2006), an album that was impressive for what it did "not" deliver as opposed to what it delivered: it did not deliver a single second of music that people had not heard before. The singles (Fake Tales of San Francisco, From the Ritz to the Rubble, When the Sun Goes Down), and notably I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor (2005), mixing a bouncy rhythm with extreme guitar noise or punk-pop and shoegaze, capitalized on the hype created by the generation of Franz Ferdinand. Alex Turner continues the English tradition of the everyday popper that started with John Lennon and continued with Morrisey, notably with emotional closer A Certain Romance. Among bands who do not aim at changing the world but simply at getting rich, the Arctic Monkeys fare pretty well. Brit-pop has done worse in the previous decade.

After the single Leave Before the Lights Come On, sophomore album Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino, 2007) was still largely a Turner showcase, with the music adding little of substance to his psychological travails in ditties such as the visceral Brianstorm (tempo shifts, jagged riffs) and Teddy Picker (poppy the way the Clash were). However, parts of the album show a group in search of a real personality. Introduced by pseudo-reggae guitar, the vocals in Fluorescent Adolescent recite what they want as usual but it's as close as they get to a poppy song. D is for Dangerous features a heated dialog between voices and guitar, in an amateurish manner, while the drums keep a devilish pace. The gallopping Do Me a Favour adds layers of noise until it explodes like a shoegazing raga. This House is a Circus employs a pseudo-ska and funky beat for its crescendo to a bacchanal. Only Ones Who Know is the quiet before the storm, a subdued psychodrama accompanied by sparse guitar tones. 505 seems to pay tribute to Ennio Morricone's soundtracks. Overall, the sound of this album is way more intense.

The Last Shadow Puppets is the duo of Alex Turner and Miles Kane. Their The Age Of The Understatement (Domino, 2008) is the ultimate retro-pop album, sampling the styles of every master from Ennio Morricone to VanDyke Parks, with grand orchestral arrangements (courtesy of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett conducting a 22-piece orchestra).

Turner's metamorphosis on Humbug (Domino, 2009) was impressive. Songs such as Crying Lightning introduced a mature crooner bent on loud hysterical outbursts of existential spleen a` la Smashing Pumpkins. The Jeweller's Hands is a mournful ballad, although similar efforts such as Potion Approaching and Dance Little Liar leave to be desired. The music follows suite by opening up in different directions. The Middle Eastern-style chant of My Propeller is wed to twangy guitar and circular drumming. The eccentric Pretty Visitors sounds like a zombie movie soundtrack. They counterbalance these extroverted moments with some of their simple songs: Dangerous Animals, that boasts little more than martial drums, and especially Cornerstone, a shuffle marked by the twangy guitar (the true second voice of the album).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Stefano Pertile).

Gli Arctic Monkeys hanno stabilito il record inglese di velocità di vendita per un album di debutto (che barba). Questi nuovi Oasis e Smiths in versione aggiornata debuttano con Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino, 2006), un album che è impressionante più che altro per quel che non contiene: non contiene un solo secondo di musica che la gente non abbia già sentito. I singoli (Fake Tales of San Francisco, From the Ritz to the Rubble, I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, When the Sun Goes Down) capitalizzano sul fenomeno creato dalla generazione Franz Ferdinand. Alex Turner continua la tradizione inglese del popper di ogni giorno iniziata con John Lennon e proseguita con Morrisey, soprattutto con la conclusiva ed emozionale A Certain Romance. Tra le band che non mirano a cambiare il mondo ma semplicemente a diventare ricche, gli Arctic Monkeys vanno abbastanza bene. Il Brit-pop nel decennio precedente ha fatto di peggio.

Dopo il singolo Leave Before the Lights Come On, il secondo album Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino, 2007) è soprattutto uno show di Turner, con la musica che aggiunge poca sostanza ai suoi travagli psicologici nelle orecchiabili hit Brianstorm e Fluorescent Adolescent. Tuttavia parti dell’album mostrano un gruppo in cerca di una vera personalità.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Ferdinando Vella)Fluorescent Adolescent recita a suo piacimento come al solito. D is for Dangerous presenta un animato dialogo tra voce e chitarra, ma in modo dilettantesco, mentre la batteria mantiene un ritmo indiavolato. La galoppante Do Me a Favour accumula strati di rumore fino ad esplodere come un raga shoegaze. This House is a Circus impiega un andatura pseudo-ska e funky nel suo crescendo verso un finale orgiastico. Only Ones Who Know è la quiete prima della tempesta, un soffuso psicodramma accompagnato da deboli suoni di chitarra. Nel complesso, il sound di quest'album è molto più appassionato.


The Last Shadow Puppets è il duo di Alex Turner e Miles Kane. Il loro The Age Of The Understatement (Domino, 2008) è l'album di retro-pop definitivo, una commistione di stili di ogni maestro del genere, da Ennio Morricone fino a Van Dyke Parks, con maestosi arrangiamenti orchestrali (un favore di Owen Pallett dei Final Fantasy, che dirige un'orchestra di 22 componenti).


La metamorfosi di Turner su Humbug (Domino, 2009) è stata impressionante. Canzoni come Crying Lightning introdotta da una cantilena maturata che si piega su potenti accessi d'ira isterici di malumore esistenziale à la Smashing Pumpkins. The Jeweller's Hands è una ballata lugubre, anche se sforzi simili come Potion Approaching e Dance Little Liar lasciano a desiderare. La musica segue una suite nell'aprirsi verso direzioni diverse. Il canto di ispirazione medio orientale di My Propeller si sposa con una chitarra vibrante e un ritmo di batteria circolare.  Con l'eccentrica Pretty Visitors sembra di ascoltare la colonna sonora di un film di zombie. Si controbilanciano questi momenti estroversi con alcune delle loro canzoni più semplici: Dangerous Animals, che vanta poco più di una batteria acrobatica, e soprattutto Cornerstone, uno shuffle segnato dalla chitarra vibrante (la vera seconda voce dell'album).


Suck It and See (2011) contains several catchy ditties (the hypnotic hard-rock of Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair, and the jangling Dylanian ode Love is a Laserquest), but tends to fall in the morose trap of Brit-pop of the 1990s (the anemic lullaby She's Thunderstorms, the overblown The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala).

AM (2013) included some decent singles (the Black Sabbath-ian R U Mine? of 2012, and the march-tempo falsetto-based bubblegum-pop of Snap Out of It), but also embarrassing filler like Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? and One for the Road (mainly notably for incorporating hip-hop moves), while Do I Wanna Know? and Arabella "boast" riffs that evoke second-rate British soul-rock of the 1970s.

The sound of Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino (Domino, 2018) focused squarely on strings and synths, largely ditching Jamie Cook's guitar riffs and Matt Helders' creative drumming. Sometimes the results hark comically back to the 1950s, like the lounge jazz of Star Treatment, the moronic pop of Golden Trunks and the swooning piano ballad Ultracheese, and sometimes mimic David Bowie, like in the Ziggy Stardust-era melodrama of American Sports and the pompous Four out of Five. The World's First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip sounds like a marching musichall skit, and Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino sounds like a defanged, lightweight version of Nick Cave's parables. They are hardly reasons to listen to this album, but they are the standout songs.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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