Friday, February 17, 2012

36 Songs, 36 Days (2012 Edition), Day Four: Only Ones Who Know by The Arctic Monkeys (Live Acoustic)

And today on 30 Songs, 30 Days--MONKEYS!

Okay, not really. But this is a rarity--a band that the music press got really, really overexcited by on the basis of an initial single proved to be pretty damn good.

That single was 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor,' and I was one of the many, many people who really, really liked it. I was also one of the many, many people who bought Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, their major label debut. And imagine my surprise to find in the Arctic Monkeys a group that seemed to take up the Brit-pop banner put down by Oasis, Blur and so many other 90's bands. Bouyed by the honestly unbeautiful vocals of Alex Turner, the Monkeys showed a great deal of verve in their pursuit of guitar-based pop, and I became a fan. Known for some eccentric song titles (this one is actually staid compared to such winners as 'Perhaps Vampire Is a Bit Strong, But....,' 'Fire And The Thud,' 'Crying Lightning,' and perhaps my favorite, 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'), I've been keeping track of their progress ever since.

And this...this is a beautiful lil' cameo of a song. Supposedly inspired by a chance meeting Turner had with a couple while he was walking about, this is a frozen moment in time...and a moment that could either go on forever or end. And the beauty of this song is that Turner gives us both sides--the 'this is wonderful' side ('Juliet was just the icing on the cake') and the 'this'll end up in tears' side ('I'm sure you could have made it a bit better on your own')....and then points out that only the couple themselves will know. While it is pure Brit-pop, the lyrical structure calls back to earlier British popular music traditions--one could see Ray Davies coming up with a similar concept for a song on Something Else By or The Village Green Preservation Society. It's songs like these that make me a fan of the Monkeys, that short-story-with-a-backbeat sensibility that infuses all their songs and makes them unique to the band itself. While many lesser bands will be covering 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' ad infinitum, I like to think only Mr. Turner and company can make a song like this sound like it should.

No video, but here's a live radio performance, while the band was publicizing the album the song came off of, Humbug...

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