At some point during 2005, my adolescent life changed forever. Aged 12, and yet to gain a proper music taste, I’d just heard the demo for a song called ‘A Certain Romance’, by a hilariously named Sheffield band called ‘Arctic Monkeys’. As the guitars jangled, I had my musical ‘eureka’ moment. January 2006 saw their masterpiece of a debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’ break chart records, and I was so happy for my new-found Yorkshire heroes, who so admirably shunned the mainstream media; refusing to believe their own hype.
The years that followed brought yet more (well-deserved) success, with songs such as ‘Fluorescent Adolescent‘ and ‘505‘ cementing them as kings of UK indie music. Despite this, and a triumphant 2007 Glastonbury headline slot, Alex Turner and co remained grounded; their unique charm, humour and wit ever-present. The honest lyrics and D.IY story spoke to a generation, and I was in the midst of a lengthy obsession.
Now, I should clarify that I’m not one of those post-Oasis simpletons that shunned third effort, ‘Humbug’ as ‘too different’. I knew they couldn’t sing about nights out and “the chip shop” forever, and saw it as a triumph (‘Dance Little Liar’ is possibly their best tune). I remained on the bandwagon for 2011’s ‘Suck it and See’, which was another great EP.
However, since the band effectively turned into global superstars at the Olympic opening ceremony, and released fifth album, AM (which annoyingly, I quite like), I’ve noticed a change in front man, Alex Turner. Gone is the painfully shy Yorkshire lad with a point to prove; drunkenly wandering the stage like that robot from his debut single. Now, with his music seemingly immune from media criticism (‘AM’ is a good album, but it isn’t this good!), and a subsequent overgrown ego, Alex is every inch the generic ‘rock star’ he’s spent 8 years trying not to be. The new Turner tells audiences how to dance to his songs, combs his hair during gigs, wears sunglasses for indoor interviews and behaves strangely on-stage (look at some footage from the iTunes Festival performance in September and you’ll see what I mean). It’s all frighteningly unnatural, and I’d hate for him become yet another rock ‘n’ roll tragedy.
Arctic Monkeys used to be a rare example of a ‘proper’ band; likeable and unassuming with an effortless swagger. No matter how big they became, arrogance was never an issue because the songs and lyrics did all the talking for them. Unfortunately, this band that I once loved have bought a one way ticket to LA and become the rock ‘n’ roll clichés they once despised. Cheers for the memories, lads.