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Arctic Monkeys

The already certifiably batty NME has completely lost its shit. The week Arctic Monkeys' debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, dropped in the UK, it placed fifth on NME's best British albums of all time list. Not crazy enough? These newcomers trumped albums by flash-in-the-pan groups like The Beatles and The Clash.

Sadly, such overzealous hype could overshadow what is a fairly impressive debut. Judging from the one-two punch of "The View from the Afternoon" and "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," these kids can bring it. Both songs propel forward on crunchy guitar, disco drumming and Alex Turner's street poetry.

At 19, Turner already has a knack for capturing the grittiness in life (à la Mike Skinner or Craig Finn). On the album's standout track, "When the Sun Goes Down," his thick Sheffield accent sounds perfect coupled with hungover guitar strokes, moaning "And I've seen him with girls of the night / and he told Roxanne to put on her red light / It's all infected but he'll be all right / 'cause he's a scumbag, don't you know."

Nevertheless, Arctic Monkeys are pretty derivative, sounding dangerously like The Clash and The Libertines (thankfully, sans "the" in their name). At times, this gives the album an unappealing feeling of sameness. However, album closer "A Certain Romance," with its soft-to-loud shifts and late-night lyrics, is impressive, suggesting these guys have done more than just study the greats. They could be around a while because, apparently, they're not monkeying around.

More by Michael Petitti

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