I feel old, this week. January 23rd marked the 10 year anniversary of what is, in all honesty, one of the seminal albums of my generation. After the initial terrifying realisation that I’m aging at an alarming rate had passed, it was replaced by the warm glow of nostalgia.
‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ came at a perfect time for me. 17 years old, consumed by the indie resurgence and living in Yorkshire, it was an album and a band that, looking back, played a part in helping forge my identity. The tales of eventful nights out, of causing trouble with your mates, of teenage love affairs – they all struck a chord. They were all instantly relatable and uniquley British.
I was obviously not alone. It was the fastest selling debut album in British music history. It received the 2006 Mercury Prize for Best Album. It was a bloody big deal, and rightly so.
“We’re Arctic Monkeys… Don’t believe the hype.” mumbles Alex Turner at the opening of the no frills video to ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ before proceeding to blow the roof off. It was a sentiment that remained in place. This was a band uninterested in the posers, the trilbies and weekend rock stars. And a front-man who quite clearly knew that they were not just a flash in the pan.
Turner’s lyrics have always been the heart of Arctic Monkeys. The ability to find beauty in the mundane, with a razor-sharp wit that’s played no small part in his ascent to bona fide rock star. From the familiar social commentary of ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’ to the kitchen sink beauty of ‘Mardy Bum’, it’s an album that continues to bring a smile to my face. It was an album that soundtracked the preamble to any night out, any car journey. Quite simply, it was an album that everybody owned. And if you still don’t own it, then I don’t trust you and we can never be friends.
I may have cut my hair and have to shave more regularly, but every time I listen to that album, I’m 17 again. I’m three Red Stripes deep, in a bar in Yorkshire. It continues to stand the test of time, and I can’t see a day when it ceases to do so.