Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is the debut studio album by English rock band Arctic Monkeys, released on 23 January 2006 by Domino Recording Company and on 21 February 2006 in the United States. The album includes both tracks from the band's original EP, Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys, as well as their first two singles "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down". This is the only Arctic Monkeys album with bassist Andy Nicholson, as he left the band shortly after the album's release.

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.jpg
Studio album by
Released23 January 2006
RecordedJune–September 2005
Studio
Genre
Length40:56
LabelDomino
ProducerJim Abbiss[a]
Arctic Monkeys chronology
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
(2006)
Favourite Worst Nightmare
(2007)
Singles from Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
  1. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor"
    Released: 17 October 2005
  2. "When the Sun Goes Down"
    Released: 16 January 2006

Forming in 2002, Arctic Monkeys frequently gave away free demo CDs to fans at gigs, which resulted in fans uploading the band’s music to social media sites. As their attention hugely grew, the band had garnered great demand from fans, the press and the music industry. Several of the album's tracks had been released for free via the Internet in late 2004, which consolidated on the unofficial Beneath the Boardwalk compilation. Musically, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not features indie rock, garage rock revival, post-punk revival, punk rock, alternative rock, and Britpop. Its thematic content has been likened to a concept, generally concerning nightlife, including lyricism surrounding clubbing and pubs, and romance from the perspective of young Northerners.

Prior to the release of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, Arctic Monkeys achieved their first UK number-ones with "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", which was the most acclaimed song of 2005, and "When the Sun Goes Down". The album became the fastest selling debut album in British music history, selling over 360,000 copies in its first week, and remains the fastest selling debut album by a band. It has since gone 6× platinum in the UK. In the US, it also became the second-fastest selling independent record label debut album in history.

The album received widespread critical acclaim from critics for its depiction of youth British Culture and for resurging British indie music that had waned after the 1990s. Among its accolades included being named the best album of 2006 by Time magazine, winning the Brit Award for Best British Album, winning the 2007 Mercury Prize, and receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. It has been ranked in several greatest albums lists', including 371 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, 19 in NME's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and 30 in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.

Composition and contentEdit

Musically, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not features indie rock,[1] garage rock revival,[2] post-punk revival,[3] punk rock,[4] alternative rock,[5] and Britpop.[5] The common thematic content of the album has led to it being considered by some a concept album concerning "the lives of young Northern England clubbers".[6] All tracks record first-person narratives of observations made within this context. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "Still Take You Home", "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me" and "Dancing Shoes" all examine human behaviour in nightclubs. Frontman Alex Turner describes "Dancing Shoes" as being about "people always looking to pull when they go out however much they mask it."[7]

Other songs examine other aspects of nightlife; "From the Ritz to the Rubble" is an account of nightclub bouncers, "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured" tells the typical experiences and troubles of getting a taxicab after a night out, and "When the Sun Goes Down" was inspired by prostitutes in the locality of their practice room in the Neepsend district of Sheffield.[8] Other songs are themed on romantic relationships, such as "Mardy Bum", or youth subcultures, such as "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "A Certain Romance". In NME's list of the top 100 tracks of the decade, "A Certain Romance" was described as "a strangely even-handed song which starts out scorning local townies then appears to absolve them at the end of the song."[9]

Title and artworkEdit

The album's title was taken from a line from the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning written by Alan Sillitoe. The name was chosen after Turner recognised similarities between the two works and the appropriateness of the title. He said that "it's good because the book is called Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and that's kind of what the album is, so there's a link there. And also, there's a lot of people saying a lot of things about us and you don't have control over it."[10] He also said that "songs including 'The View from the Afternoon', 'Dancing Shoes', 'Still Take You Home' and 'From the Ritz to the Rubble' all cover that bit of the weekend and feature the same character."[11]

Cover artwork of the album is a photo of Chris McClure—a close friend of the band, frontman of The Violet May and brother of Jon McClure of Reverend and The Makers—taken in the early hours of the morning in Korova bar, Liverpool[10] after the band had given him, his cousin and his best friend "seventy quid to spend on a night out".[12] The image caused some controversy when Laurence Gruer of NHS Scotland criticised the cover for "reinforcing the idea that smoking is okay".[13] The band's product manager denied the accusation, and in fact suggested the opposite: "You can see from the image smoking is not doing him the world of good." Billboard advertisements for the album used a similar image to the cover picture, but without the cigarette.

Release and promotionEdit

Forming in 2002, Arctic Monkeys frequently gave away free demo CDs to fans at gigs, which resulted in fans uploading the band’s music to social media sites,[14] and as their attention hugely grew, the band had garnered great demand from fans, the press and the music industry.[14] Prior to the release of the album, the tracks "Mardy Bum", "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", "Fake Tales of San Francisco", "Dancing Shoes", "Still Take You Home", "Riot Van", "When the Sun Goes Down" (then known as "Scummy" or "Scummy Man") and "A Certain Romance" had been released for free via the internet in late 2004 and consolidated on the unofficial Beneath the Boardwalk compilation.

"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" was released as the first single from the album, the song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart in October 2005 for one week, knocking Sugababes' "Push the Button" off the top. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" was the most acclaimed song of 2005.[15] "When the Sun Goes Down" was released as the second single from the album in January 2006, also debuting at number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming their second consecutive UK number-one single.

The original release date was 30 January 2006, but was brought forward to 23 January 2006 due to "high demand". Although the same was done with Franz Ferdinand, it was speculated that the move was an attempt to counter the effects of the album's leak onto online file-sharing sites.[16] The re-recorded album versions had been leaked onto the internet by December 2005.

On the first day of its release, the album became the fastest-selling debut album in British history, selling just under 120,000 copies. By the end of the week, the album had sold 363,735 copies—more than the rest of the top 20 combined and making it the overall fastest selling debut album in British history. Its release in the United States on 21 February 2006 saw it become the second fastest selling debut indie album in history,[17] turning over around 34,000 copies in its first week and achieving number 24 in the album charts. The album also went to number one in Australia and Ireland. UK sales as of September 2013 stood at 1,475,982 copies.[18] In February 2014, the album was certified 5× Platinum, indicating sales of 1,500,000 copies.

"The View from the Afternoon" was expected to have been the band's third single, following UK number ones "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down", but the band announced in March 2006 that its next record would be a five-track EP,[19] which thereby disqualified it from being listed in the UK Singles Chart and UK Albums Chart.[20]

The track "Mardy Bum", while not released as a single, appeared on radio playlists throughout the UK in mid-2006, and is still played infrequently on BBC Radio 1 and some alternative rock stations such as Sirius XM's Sirius XMU. The track "A Certain Romance" was ranked number 90 in Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Tracks of 2006 and cited as the standout track.[21] NME also placed "A Certain Romance" at 10 in their list of 100 Tracks of the Decade.[9] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 140 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[22]

In the US, "Fake Tales of San Francisco" was released as the album's third single and peaked at number 30 on the Billboard charts.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic82/100[23]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [24]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[25]
The Guardian     [8]
Los Angeles Times    [26]
NME10/10[27]
Pitchfork7.4/10[28]
Q     [29]
Rolling Stone     [30]
SpinB+[31]
The Village VoiceA−[32]

Since its release, the album has received widespread acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it has a weighted average rating of 82 out of 100 based on 33 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[23] It featured highly in many year-end lists and has been hailed as a modern classic.[33] Many critics and figures in the British media hyped the Arctic Monkeys and their rapid rise to acclaim through unconventional means[8][34][28] and some even cited the Arctic Monkeys as revolutionising the way people find music as they built a fanbase on the basis of a few demos shared by fans through the internet.[35] Critics hugely praised the album for its depiction of youth British Culture and for resurging British indie music that had waned after the 1990s.[14]

NME declared the Arctic Monkeys "Our Generation's Most Important Band", and Alex Turner's lyrics and depiction of Sheffield, and the night lives of teenagers in particular, were praised, with him being labelled as a "master of observation"[27] and USA Today writing "you probably won't hear a better CD all year long", calling it "utterly infectious".[33] MusicOMH wrote that it was the sort of guitar rock that "makes you fall in love with music all over again" and along with many other critics cited "A Certain Romance" as the standout track and as being "a wonderfully articulate dissection of youth culture that belies Turner's tender years". It was, however, noted that some of the tracks which had previously been released on the internet as demos had lost some of their quality and "don't sound as good".[34]

In 2013, seven years after its release, Rolling Stone wrote, "It turned out that all the Monkeys needed to conquer the world was scrappy, lager-fueled tunes about being young and bored in a bleak steel town [...] Thanks to Turner's big bag of creaky melodies and the band's snaggletoothed guitar attack, even America couldn't resist pub-punk gems like the raging, sexy "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor."[36]

AccoladesEdit

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
Rolling Stone Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of 2000s 41 [37]
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 371 [38]
Rolling Stone's 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time 30 [39]
NME 100 Greatest British Albums Ever 5 [40]
NME's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 19

Awards and nominationsEdit

In 2009 the album placed at number 9 in MTV's 'Greatest Album Ever' online poll.[49] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[50] It was ranked 30 in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[51]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Alex Turner, except where noted[52].

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."The View from the Afternoon" 3:38
2."I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" 2:53
3."Fake Tales of San Francisco" 2:57
4."Dancing Shoes" 2:21
5."You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me" 2:10
6."Still Take You Home"
2:53
7."Riot Van" 2:14
8."Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured" 2:23
9."Mardy Bum" 2:55
10."Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But..." 4:28
11."When the Sun Goes Down" 3:20
12."From the Ritz to the Rubble" 3:13
13."A Certain Romance" 5:31
Total length:40:56

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from liner notes.[53]

Arctic Monkeys

Technical

  • Jim Abbiss – production, recording, mixing (track 9)
  • Alan Smyth – production (track 9), additional recording (track 11)
  • Ewan Davies – recording
  • Andreas Bayr – recording (track 9)
  • Simon 'Barny' Barnicott – mixing
  • Owen Skinner – mixing assistance

Design

  • Juno Liverpool – design
  • Alexandra Wolkowicz – photography
  • Andy Brown – photography

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[91] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[92] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[93] 2× Platinum 40,000 
Japan (RIAJ)[94] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[95] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[97] 6× Platinum 1,860,000[96]
United States (RIAA)[98] Gold 500,000 

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Except "Mardy Bum", recorded at Telstar, Munich and produced by Alan Smyth.

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External linksEdit