Riot Van

Sometimes the quiet song in the middle of the album, that you don’t really notice between all the hits, is what ends up becoming your favorite. I’ve been discovering Arctic Monkeys this year, after holding out on them for a long time, and this little song, surprisingly, is one of the ones that made me go, “Wow this is some pretty rad songwriting.” Songs with loud guitar solos and a catchy chorus are what’s designed to impress you, that’s why most people frontload their albums with bangers. But sometimes the bangers aren’t actually the most impressive material. I’ve always been a proponent of discovering deep tracks out of context. That’s something the magic of going digital has allowed us to very easily do, and it say what you will about the degradation of the album as a cohesive artistic statement, but I freaking love picking songs out of order and just hearing them on their own. You can experience a work in an entirely different way that way.

Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured

 

And here we have some of that guitar rock that 2006 was sorely lacking. It was sorely lacking so much that the Arctic Monkeys’ debut album shot them straight to instant fame and breathless accolades of the sort that almost inevitably lead to sore disappointment. There’s hardly a cursed accolade worse than ‘instant classic’ to sink a promising ship, especially if it’s plastered on a debut. As an audience, if you’re not one of those fans who were in on the ground floor and get to say “I told you so!”, your first impulse is to find something to hate. “This so-called instant classic is sooo overrated” you parry “You lot can’t impress me, for what even is guitar rock than just the same Stooges album regurgitated ad nauseum?” That’s actually a pretty fun position to take for the aspiring armchair critic. It’s even worse if you’re the band, and you’ve got nothing to do for the rest of your life except try to live up to a load of hype that got thrown at you when you were barely old enough to sign your own checks. I’m going to hold my initial position here and say that the first Arctic Monkeys album was not actually as monumentally great an achievement as the hype would have it, though apparently a garage rock concept album about the spoils of partying is just what the world was hungering for. However, it was a good start, with or without hyperbole, and more importantly, these guys really beat the odds. They didn’t flame out under pressure, they kept working and got tighter and developed a more interesting image and made increasingly better albums and actually grew into being one of the best guitar bands.