Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Arctic Monkeys

  • Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not [Domino, 2006] A-
  • Leave Before the Lights Come On [Domino, 2006] **
  • Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys? [Domino, 2006] Choice Cuts
  • Favourite Worst Nightmare [Domino, 2007] B+
  • Humbug [Domino, 2009] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not [Domino, 2006]
The great thing about this album is how untranscendent it is, as if these lads know the guitar-band pleasures are cons. Sing-along tunes? Breakneck momentum? Next-big-thing ambition? Saturday-night swindles every one. Instead Alex Turner and crew evoke club life as it is actually experienced. They sound like not knowing the doorman, like moving on a girl you think isn't pretty enough, like missing the bus in a leather jacket that doesn't keep out the cold. Many details are too U.K.-specific for Yank-yob gratification. But aesthetes will come to enjoy Turner's nuanced adenoids and his bandmates' thought-through arrangements. A-

Leave Before the Lights Come On [Domino, 2006]
Nuanced original, one-note original, sweet cover ("Leave Before the Lights Come On," "Baby I'm Yours"). **

Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys? [Domino, 2006]
"Despair in the Departure Lounge" Choice Cuts

Favourite Worst Nightmare [Domino, 2007]
They're lots bigger, so be grateful they're only somewhat broader--and that for Alex Turner maturity means subtlety, not cynicism. The herberts, paparazzi and under assistant Japanese promo men of the first few songs are rendered more generic by their big loud beats, but once Turner gets down to interpersonals his romances gone sour are tender and nuanced--check out the failed fling of "Only Ones Who Know," the conflicted reunion of "505," the scorned compassion of "Do Me a Favour." And if we have to endure songs about the superstar round, "This House Is a Circus" is wiser than Bloc Party's. B+

Humbug [Domino, 2009]
"Dark"--everybody says so. Alex Turner's a closet Sabbath fan, hence the bass-heavy atmospherics by king of the stoners Josh Homme. Those who believe the serious and the ponderous are linked at the brainstem will welcome Turner's strained metaphors and sour mood. Those who can't stand it when a bright young band heads for the toilet will try to forget the slick tile that was his Last Shadow Puppets thing. Talented lad, Turner. Not on this evidence incapable of ever writing quick, clever, cynical little songs again. But consider Paul Weller. Bummer. B