Hot on the heels of their shock UK No. 1 single "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not confirms Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys as the UK underground's most proselytizing young preachers of the DIY gospel. Marrying nervy, caffeine-and-cigarettes indie clatter to conversational, pretense-free lyrics and the occasional burst of off-the-cuff eloquence ("No time for Montagues or Capulets/Just banging tunes and DJ sets," proffers "Dancefloor"), it's an instant, pulse-racing hit.
No question, the Monkeys are more sinners than saints. The opening "The View from the Afternoon" predicts a ruckus with a whole lot more grit than the Kaisers can muster, while on the mellow "Riot Van," a tale of underage drinking and cop-baiting culminates in a messy beating in the back of a station wagon. Look beyond the Arctics' bristly, laddish exterior, however, because it's actually affairs of the heart that comprise this album's secret core: see the sweaty-palmed "Dancing Shoes," bearing testament to the trial of nerves that is pulling in a suburban indie nightclub, or "Mardy Bum"--a tribute to a moody girlfriend that, for all its witty barbs ("I've seen your frown and it's like looking down the barrel of a gun"), is tinted with sweet affection. --Louis Pattison