The backlash, this EP is all about the backlash. These are the first thoughts that enter my normally vacuous brain as I hear the opening lines to the Arctic Monkey’s second significant release of the year:
“Anticipation has a habit to set you up
For disappointment in evening entertainment”
This is the opening to ‘The View from the Afternoon’, the only track on this EP which appeared on the album, Whatever people think I am that’s what I’m not. Overall it is ‘typical’ Arctic Monkeys: clever lyrics, crunching guitar riffs and a brash in your face attitude. It is catchy as hell as well.
Next up is ‘Cigarette Smoker Fiona’. This song appeared on the internet and was one of the tracks that made the band famous in the first place and caused those torrents of column inches all those weeks (!!) ago. I have to admit I was surprised that they left this song off the album in the first place. However, I can now understand why. Although excellent, it fails to recapture the energy of the early original demo.
From here on it is all new territory. Not songs written over a year ago but songs written after the media hype, the thousands of words in all kinds of publications from the NME to the Financial Times. ‘Despair in the Departure’ is quite a dramatic departure. This track just has singer Alex Turner and an electric guitar accompaniment. This is a tale of longing, loneliness and jet lag of a young lad from Sheffield who seems to be missing home and loved ones.
‘No Buses’ sounds like George Formby (no, this is not a misprint). This song has full band backing and eventually builds into a jolly old knees up. But this positive, happy sounding vibe masks the lyrics which seem to be questioning fame, the rules associated with it and the media game. However, it never feels like a coke-inspired ditty of the problems of the rich and famous (see the Streets latest offering).
The title track, ‘Who the Fuck Are the Arctic Monkeys’ has an almost reggae feel to it at the start of the track. Ultimately it is this song that makes the whole EP work and worthy of your hard earned cash. This song is as good (if not better) than any of the other songs on the album. This song confirms my initial thoughts and can be viewed as a pre-emptive strike by the Monkeys against the expectant backlash:
“We all want someone to shout for
Yeah! Everyone wants someone to adore
But you’re heroes aren’t what they seem
When they’ve been where we’ve been”
The song turns into a singalong chant worthy of early Oasis, before breaking down into a riff based boogie, all dark and menacing. As Alex Turner shouts, “Bring on the Backlash” and the song becomes one hell of a moshing sessions, I’m thinking to myself that I’ve been won over all over again. This song is again proof of the incredible talent that these boys possess. I can’t wait to hear this one live.
The Arctic Monkeys have released an excellent postscript to an amazingly eventful career so far. ‘Who the Fuck are the Arctic Monkeys’ proves that the band have what it takes to be at the forefront of the charts and music scene in five years time. This is an excellent EP and well worth the money.