Thursday, January 26, 2006

Monkeys und Wallys

The Arctic Monkeys are nineteen. If I were nineteen - and verily, I am not – I would consider their debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not’ the most incredible thing ever and I reckon, conceivably, that it would change my life in the same way the Smiths’ debut did back in February 1984. I’m sure it is changing young lives as I write this. The hype surrounding this recording is astonishing with all the publications I’ve read giving it glowing reports and the maximum number of stars. Andrew Collins, a journalist and broadcaster I admire, in this month’s Word Magazine, tells how he paid from his own pocket to see the band in Europe recently. I do enjoy the album myself having listened to it a couple of times but it is far from astonishing. There is a confidence about the songs, a raucous tapping into a South Yorkshire adolescent zeitgeist that impresses and begs, begs to be liked and I must admit to appreciating deeply the lack of hip, the unselfconscious untrendiness and lo-fi insouciance that permeate proceedings. The songs are witty, clever, knowing and, heck, tuneful but I was moved and awed a great deal more by the splendour of Bjork’s ‘Homogenic’ which I played today and by the multi-layered textures of ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’ by Godspeed You Black Emperor! which I had on my headphones last night in bed and took me on an unbelievable musical journey. In contrast, The Arctic Monkeys are a little contrived and I’m sure I’d easily tire of their stuff but then again I’m not nineteen.

Like a wally, and, to boot, a wally trying to be far too clever, I wrote ‘durm und strang’ instead of ‘sturm und drang’ last night and S, of course, couldn’t wait to let me know my error and tell me how hard he’d been laughing. I apologise. But not to him. I've used the word 'zeitgeist' tonight to show I'm not upset.

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