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Story telling and brilliant instrumentation – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

23 January 2006. The day Arctic Monkeys released Whatever People Say, That’s What I’m Not (WPSIATWIN) as their debut album.

363,735 copies were sold in the first week – the fastest selling debut album at the time.

Since that day 10 years ago today, Arctic Monkeys have sold out arenas and headlined festivals worldwide.

I take a look back at WPSIATWIN and how it made the Sheffield quartet so popular.

Packed with 13 tracks full of raw, Yorkshire talent, WPSIATWIN combines witty Alex Turner lyrics with instrumentation that has influenced endless indie-rock bands.

Personal favourite lyrics are: “The band were fucking wank and I’m not having a nice time” (Fake Tales Of San Francisco), “You’re a Topshop princess, a rockstar too” (Still Take You Home) and “I can’t be arsed to carry on in this debate that reoccurs, oh when you say I don’t care” (Mardy Bum).

Unlike most bands/albums I can remember being introduced to the band for the first time by NME TV. The music video for When The Sun Goes Down (my joint favourite Arctic Monkeys track alongside Black Treacle) came on and I was instantly hooked.

The lyrics were tales of things that similarly happen in every city centre around the UK. Arguments over places in queues at taxi ranks (Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured), desperate prostitutes (When The Sun Goes Down) and being chased by police (Riot Van) are not unfamiliar sights.

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WPSIATWIN – The album of a generation

I think it is the ‘normal-ness’ and story telling technique of the songs that impresses me most and why I love this album so much. Many fans say WPSIATWIN is the best album Arctic Monkeys have released and it is hard to disagree.

This was the first of five number one albums and up there with Definitely Maybe and The Stone Roses LP as the best debut albums ever released.

In 2006 at the time of the release, The Guardian wrote: “The spectre of Oasis lurks around Arctic Monkeys, proof that even the most promising beginnings can turn into a dreary, reactionary bore.” Five albums later it is clear that the sound of Arctic Monkeys has differed and their rough and ready image has smartened up.

I sadly cannot see Arctic Monkeys returning to their previous image. However, if they were to do one of them tours where they play the album in full I would sell a limb to go.


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