Whatever People Say They Are, They Might Just Be Better

It can be difficult – really difficult – for bands to rise above the noise and get their music heard.  So many bands around the world grind and grind and work to perfect their craft and hope that somebody out there notices.  But more often than not, the effort to “break through” to the masses ultimately falls short.

So when a band like Arctic Monkeys seemingly shows up out of nowhere with a ridiculous amount of hype, as this merry band of English youngsters did in 2006 with their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, it’s hard not to avoid a backlash.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Of course, any band that sells north of 1 million copies, as the Monkeys did with the first album (and nearly duplicated with the follow-up Favourite Worst Nightmare”), probably could care less if the tastemakers who built them up then decided to tear them down.  There have been many crappy bands who have been able to craft decent careers out of an initial buzz, while doing very little to actually justify their fanbase.

But in the case of Arctic Monkeys, the best statement they can make (and have made) is to let the music do the talking.  Far from crappy, the output on the first two records actually lives up to the hype – or at least a large portion of it.

And with tomorrow’s US release of their third album, “Humbug”, the band may have tweaked the formula just enough to balance the scales which have weighed heavily toward British phenomenon and American curiosity.

Choosing to record in California’s Mojave Desert with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age as producer represents a significant change in sonic inspiration.  The Wall Street Journal (yes, that WSJ) catches up with the band to discuss the Joshua Tree setting for the recording sessions and the “psychedelic atmosphere” that defines the 10 songs on Humbug.

And, of course, the music industry is always interested in the goings-on of the Arctic Monkeys.  For your official reviews by those vaunted tastemakers on both sides of the pond, check out Pitchfork and NME, both of which acknowledge the change in musical direction yet praise the quality of this new release while anticipating future albums to match the output of the Monkeys’ first three full-length releases.

I don’t know about you, but personally, when choosing what to play next on my ipod or stereo, I could care less about record sales or hype or Arctic Monkeys being “the coolest band in the world”.  That quote comes directly from the mouth of Laurence Bell, the founder of the Monkeys’ Domino record label in this interview with Billboard magazine regarding the label’s high hopes for a huge success with Humbug.

But setting aside the business of music and the endless hype and shamless industry plugging, it’s heartening to know that the members of this band actually seem to be non-plussed with the “buzz” and rightfully focused on creating lasting works of art.

I’m excited to get Humbug into heavy rotation immediately.  Just in time for those upcoming live shows featuring our favorite frosty primates.

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~ by acm213 on August 24, 2009.

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