March 06, 2006 12:00 PM

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD

CRITIC’S CHOICE

INDIE ROCK

The hype surrounding Britain’s Arctic Monkeys has reached King Kong-like proportions: Recently the influential U.K. music magazine NME ranked their indie-rock debut (which just arrived in the States after being released overseas last month) at No. 5 on a list of the best British albums ever. Considering the Beatles and the Stones alone, that kind of buzz seems, well, bananas. But as much as any barely legal band could probably measure up to such impossibly high expectations, the Monkeys do on an exhilarating CD that will win over even the most jaded listener who has been bamboozled by too many Next Great Things. You know you’re in for something special when you get to track 2, the No. 1 U.K. hit “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.” It’s an irresistible come-on, all raging hormones and raw guitars, that showcases the quartet’s rambunctious energy, killer rhythm section and frontman Alex Turner’s machete-sharp lyrics. “Your name isn’t Rio, but I don’t care for sand,” he snarls in a cheeky nod to Duran Duran. Arctic Monkeys clearly know their British pop history, evoking the Clash with a postpunk explosion one minute and the Smiths with a blissfully melodic jangle the next. Is it one of the five greatest British albums of all time? No. But it wouldn’t be going out on much of a limb to say it makes the t op 100, maybe Top 50. And that ain’t bad.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”

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