My love affair with the Arctic Monkeys started in 2006, when I first heard a song called ‘Riot Van’ blaring from the speakers of an old Beetle while on a roadtrip to the South Coast.
It was a hot February day and three of the car’s occupants were drifting in and out of afternoon 40 winks.
I had taken my shirt off, taking in the sun in shorts and a bikini top, one leg out the window, face covered with the tatty old shirt and there it was.
Like a gentle introduction to someone you didn’t know would become your best friend, this song starts playing.
Building up slowly, I took in every note, every word and every beat. The singer’s accent. The silly lyrics. The song coming together telling the story of our lives. The driver looking at me, remembering that time we got in trouble and ran from the police – sharing a moment through the lyrics.
I had to have more.
As soon as we reached civilisation, I went out and bought Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. And I’ve been in love ever since.
The story of the Arctic Monkeys isn’t that special. But the band definitely is. From that first album, I had to pick off the songs I didn’t like as much as the others to prevent ripping an entire CD for my car made up entirely of one band.
Songs like The View from the Afternoon, I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor and Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But are still regulars on my daily playlist.
In 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare hit the shelves and I was immediately drawn in by tracks like Brianstorm, D is for Dangerous and Flourescent Adolescent. Actually, the entire album was magic. My favourite, 505, is a soft one, a tender build-up to a rushing climax. It’s not their best, but it’s their most magical. “But I crumble completely when you cry/It seems like once again you’ve had to greet me with goodbye/I’m always just about to go and spoil a surprise/Take my hands off of your eyes too soon.” Alex Turner twists the knife with every word.
The enigmatic lead singer has a beautiful gift of storytelling way beyond his years. His understanding of people, human nature and sheer raw emotion is unparalleled. His ability to turn a phrase and lyrically draw you into his universe coupled with the band’s unique style of indie rock envelops you in a blanket of grungy guitar, heavy bass, drumming that you can feel in every bone and vocals that suck you into what would be their journey to rock ‘n roll invincibility. He has a knack for putting the indescribable into poetry.
The band is in their mid-20s and they’re already legends.
Even though Humbug and Suck it and See did not do as well as their previous two albums, the hook was still there for me. Turner’s accent and his uncanny ability to tell my life in song truly captured every inch of my being into buying the albums without having listened to them. It’s that love – the relationship I have with the music and lyrics – that captures me every time. Right now, I have Hellcat Spangled Shalala in my head.
Now, with AM, the band has changed direction. With Turner looking like something out of the ’50s – almost bringing James Dean back to life – he still sings the tune of my life. They’ve proven that they’re not just any shoe-gazing ‘love me because I’m adorable’ indie act.
They’re raw, real and so fucking sexy.
The love affair I have with the Arctic Monkeys will probably never end. Telling stories about days we ran from police doing God knows what, being “wrong, wrong, wrong, But well do it anyway cause we love a bit of trouble”. Falling over, drunk as all hell, causing even more trouble, with “the policeman look annoyed”. The flings I’ve had with really beautiful boys at university with “the boy’s a slag, the best you ever had”. Heartbreak with “do me a favour and tell me to go away”. The intense relationships that left me altered for life with “I’d probably still adore you with your hands around my neck”. The late night partying with “this house is a circus, berserk as fuck”. Falling in love with “Concertina cheating heart beat/rapid fire”. Partying like crazy with “lighting a fuse might result in a bang, b-b-bang oh!” Telling the stories of my life and adventures.
It really is a love affair, mainly to do with the lyrics, and I fell like I was there for every experience. The Arctic Monkeys have in just seven years, become one of those bands that carry me through my life, like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam.
To the band, I say thank you for the music. It’s a feeling I can’t describe. The ones who love you like I do are the only ones who know.
This article was originally published on Times LIVE.
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