Arctic Monkeys, who have conquered the British charts with their debut singles and album, can be seen as the Stone Temple Pilots to Franz Ferdinand’s Pearl Jam. If Franz bandmates are icons of a new trend in British rock, the Monkeys reaffirm the success of that aesthetic while subtly removing some of the elements that made it a refreshing break from the arena rock standard.
Like Stone Temple Pilots, Arctic Monkeys are a sturdy if unimaginative rock combo who bash through the modern-rock clichés of their day (in this case, trebly dance numbers and drolly lilting vocals) with enough skill and energy to appease any unquestioning Anglophile. But they’ve also eradicated the liberal subtext that made their genre forerunners something to root for. FF’s gay-friendly wink has been replaced by harsh dismissals of hotties; “Still Take You Home” (as in “You know nothing, but I’ll ...”) is their “Sex Type Thing.”
It may sound reminiscent of Alex Kapranos’s wry description of courting in “Dark of the Matinee” when AM singer Alex Turner, in “When the Sun Goes Down,” warns a young thing about the guy “who made Roxanne put on the red light,” but the closest Turner gets to undercutting his anger about being cock-blocked is the title “Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But....” Folks looking for something jagged to bop to will find Whatever You Say I Am less diffuse than Franz’s latest, but it’s difficult to wish unabashed jerks further success in macho-ing up yet another subculture.
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