23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 12-11-2014 03:56

      Wednesday 12, November 2014

      BLOG: Why I love Arctic Monkeys

      Popular among many... Holly Robinson reminisces about (according to The Top Tens) the third best British band of the 21st century

      I can still remember it. Like it was yesterday. I put the shiny silver disc into my battered old CD player and the scrawl of marker pen in my awful handwriting saying: 'ARCTIC MONKEYS' disappeared into the mouth of the machine. Sat down, cup of tea in hand, I huddled against my radiator because it was oh… maybe February ‘09? Anyway, it was cold so I wrapped up and sat down as a thick Yorkshire accent shouted: ‘anticipation has a habit to set you up for disappointment’, filled the room.

      I was 14. A couple of years previous I had been uprooted from my home in a suburb in Sheffield to a quaint little village in the heart of Cambridgeshire. I was homesick. My best friend at the time, Izzie and myself had started getting into indie bands. Obsessed with Noel Fielding, I bought a leather jacket, got a feather cut and started listening to rock n' roll.

      I soon discovered that, actually despite what the top 40 might portray, there were some good modern day bands out there.

      I found the Strokes first which was of course, inspirational. Then the Libertines, Babyshambles, Oasis, Pulp, the Vines, Kasabian… the stuff my Dad had often played in the car while I was growing up and I hadn’t ever really paid attention to.

      Anyway, I remember getting Izzie into all this stuff too and one day she came in to school, NME in hand, telling me about this band from Sheffield I should listen to because they were really good and the lead singer was cute.

      When I got home that evening, I realised that my Uncle had in fact given me a copy of said band’s debut album so I thought why not give them a go? I was suddenly transported home to Sheffield and I had a magical epiphany in which I realised: THIS is how music is supposed to sound: the way his thick northern teenage voice cracked under certain words. The speed at which he fit all those words into a small space of sound. The way the drum beat hit me right in the chest and I could feel it in my heartbeat. The way the guitars were mismatched and yet fit perfectly together. The words he sang, ringing so true in my ears that by the time I got one minute in to ‘A Certain Romance’ I burst into tears.

      The more I listened, the more amazed I was that this child (he was 17/18 when he wrote the first album) could produce such poetic streams of consciousness. He perfectly summed up life in Sheffield, being a teenager, and all sorts of other ordinary stuff in life, but in the most beautiful way possible. He wasn’t the greatest singer ever, but he sung in his accent. He rhymed ‘summet’ with ‘stomach’ for Christ’s sake. I mean who thinks of that? It was pure, unadulterated genius in my eyes and as soon as I got the chance I bought the second album.

      Sure enough, the magic wasn’t a fluke. This time there were heavier tracks. ‘Brainstorm’ had me up and head banging straight away, and then I was reduced to a blubbing mess once again by the time ‘Only Ones Who Know’ rolled around. I quickly found out that they had almost an identical upbringing to me. Mates, four of them who all went to school together in High Green (another suburb in Sheffield, a bit more North than where I’m from), working class backgrounds and all that. I fell in love with each and every one of the band and their personalities.

      Alex, the socially inept frontman who’s every sentence was a song in the making. The joker drummer Matt, who played pranks and made everyone laugh. Nick, the silent bassist who would interject one sentence in an interview but it would be the best sentence you’d heard all year. Even Jamie, the moody guitarist who didn’t want any part in fame and has always (and still is, I might add) in it for his love of music and his love of the band. I felt like I’d found a missing part of myself. Of my soul. And I couldn’t quite sum the feeling up to anyone. I reckon everyone goes through that though. Or at least, the luckiest of us do. When you’re about 15 and you’re a sulky teenager who hates school and all that. We all find that one band, the band that changes everything. The band that puts music into perspective and now every band has to live up to their standards.

      Arctic Monkeys were that band.

      Later that year their 'difficult' third album ‘Humbug’ came out, and I took a lot of convincing. I’m not going to lie, they recorded it with Josh Homme in the desert and my first reaction was ‘well this is different.’ But the more you listen, the more you realise how good it was for them: they grew up a lot out in Joshua Tree.

      They all grew their hair out—a phase I am still confused by—they got beards and new guitars and suddenly were all styled and groomed like proper celebrities. They didn’t sing about chip shops anymore and where was that hefty Rn'B influence? Alex was properly singing now, instead of half-talking in his crackly teenage voice.

      Looking back, I laugh at how naive I was. Funnily enough, ¨‘Humbug’ is my second favourite of all the Arctic Monkeys albums--nothing will ever come close to beating that first album, but what I love about ‘Humbug’ is the way that they evolved while still staying true to themselves. Alex still writes about the same scenarios... just from a different corner of the room. He’s not a teenager anymore, so he can’t keep writing songs about being one--that makes sense. Some of his finest lyrical work is on that third album. I mean ‘Cornerstone’ is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, and yet it’s wrapped in a jumble of metaphors that trick you into thinking there’s a happy ending--utterly life changing.

      When ‘Suck it and See’ came out in 2011, I was finally allowed to go and see them live. Me and my best mate Alfie got tickets to go watch them at Don Valley Bowl in Sheffield the day after my last GCSE exam. To say I was excited would be an understatement.. Never, had I been to a proper gig before, especially not an outdoor one, so I had no idea what to expect. I mean, now I am a seasoned festival goer and gig reviewer but back then I was terrified and excited all at once.

      The emotion I felt when they walked on stage and stood in front of me, singing those songs that I’d felt every feeling of being alone in my bedroom; it was too much and I just sobbed for the entire first song. Alfie turned to me and said: ‘oh my God are you ok? What’s wrong, are you hurt?’

      Between my heart-breaking sobs I managed to gasp: ‘I. Just. Can’t. Believe. They’re. Real.’ Because I couldn’t. It was like a dream to be so close to them.

      The gig was amazing even though I haven’t drunk cider since being drenched in it, I got beaten up pretty badly in a mosh pit, a semi naked man tried to steal my bag, and I probably went through the entire spectrum of emotions in the space of two hours, I can safely say it was the best gig I’ve ever been too. Alex cut all his hair off in an attempt to channel Richard Hawley and breaking up with Alexa Chung seems to have brought out his inner showman. They have kind off gone slightly more towards the mainstream but all it means is that Alex now has such stage presence, stalking the stage like a proud lion in skinny jeans. Sometimes even without a guitar, something that wouldn’t have even been considered during their first couple of albums.

      I’ve watched them grow up and evolve and I feel like a proud mother when I see the recognition they get. Sometimes I like to just listen to that first album all the way through, and reminisce back to the first time I listened. I envy anyone who hasn’t listened to that first album because they still have that experience to look forward to and I can only hope it’s as good for them as it was for me. I love it so much, in fact, that I’m getting the title: ‘Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not’ tattooed on my arm so it’s with me forever. I’m also getting some of their lyrics done on my twentieth birthday too, and I don’t imagine I’ll stop there either.

      All I can really say is thank you to the Arctic Monkeys for everything and I love you. There’s no other way to put it: love.

      By: Holly Robinson 

      (Photo: Flickr)