23rd January, 2006. Arctic Monkeys’ debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ is released and goes on to be the fastest selling debut by a band in British history, racking up phenomenal sales of 360,000 in its first week. This album marks the start of the phenomenal career the Monkeys have had; since then, with 5 number one albums, 2 Glastonbury headline sets, an Olympic opening ceremony performance, 7 Brits and 9 Grammy nominations (the list really is endless,) Arctic Monkeys are one of the most influential rock bands on this planet. Known for shaping the indie rock scene of the 2000s, the band have explored all sorts of genres, from desert rock to post-punk. But just ten years ago, who knew that four local lads from Sheffield would soon be playing sell out gigs all around the world?
Their debut marks the start of a new era for music; an intense, crazy, rock ‘n’ roll one. As Alex Turner infamously stated ‘rock ‘n’ roll will never die.’ And he couldn’t have been more right. The debut album laid the foundation for British rock music of the noughties, inspiring countless rock bands. Drawing inspiration from the Beatles, The Strokes and Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys are the biggest band to come out of the UK since forever. And it all started in the early 2000s. Having formed in 2002 in High Green Sheffield, the original band line-up was Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Matt Helders, and Andy Nicholson (who was later replaced by bassist Nick O’Malley). The formidable sound of the band was clear from the start; unreleased demos, such as ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Waving Bye to the Train or the Bus’ show just how talented they were. And soon, they were no longer just a group of lads from Sheffield; they were rock gods. ‘Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not’ was released onto a group of young, excited fans, desperate to hear more of this small group from High Green. Prior to the album’s release, the band would hand out demos at gigs, and a fan run MySpace page helped their popularity grow even more. As well as that, classic favourites ‘I Bet You Look Good on The Dancefloor’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ had already been released as singles before the LP was released. No wonder the album became the fasting selling debut in British history! Since then, the album has gone quintuple platinum in the UK and this was just the beginning. The album is full of heavy riffs, cocky narratives of day to day life in Sheffield, and has a really gritty, raw edge which so many ‘rock’ albums miss out entirely. In its effortlessness and simplicity, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s what I’m not’ is easily the most insanely intense, hypnotically brilliant album of this century. Turner’s lyrical genius shines through in his genuine, heart wrenching observations of Sheffield life, from moody girlfriends to dickhead bouncers to prostitutes; and for that to come from a teenager is quite something! Put simply, the album is a masterpiece, a true piece of musical talent and extraordinary music. Nothing beats it, and it’s hard to imagine a rock album coming close to the intensity and thrill of the debut. Despite Turner’s will for it, people can’t help but believe the hype. And even in 100 years, the album will still shine through as one of the rare gems, and one of the best albums of the century.