A few times a week, Gothamist publishes music reviews by our contributor Jeff Baum. The opinions below belong entirely to the author.
Is it possible to write a review of the Arctic Monkeys right now without acknowledging their hype? For these kids, it has completely displaced any discussion on their music. Every review, interview or article not only hypes the band, but hypes the hype itself. Ask anybody who keeps up with the current music scene about these guys and the first (probably only) thing they'll be able to tell you is that the band has a ton of buzz swirling around them. It's reached an unprecedented level.
In fairness, it must be tough to be tagged as the next great English rock and roll band. They don't even have a full length album out yet. Honestly, there's not really that much to talk about them in the first place except how much everyone else is talking about them. It's all very strange. Like some sort of sociological experiment or something.
So what do we actually have here? Once we scrape away all the blah blah blah? There’s a very competent and very young Brit pop/punk band. It's nothing groundbreaking or particularly original, but they actually are pretty great at what they do. No Theremins or Accordions here. Just straightforward guitar-driven rock. They were able to stir the crowd last night at Bowery, seemingly made up of equal parts Blogger and British expatriate (with a sprinkle of David Bowie on top) into quite a frenzy. They always remained confident on stage, yet understandably humbled by the reaction they were able to create. Had the expectations not been completely blown out of proportion, they would have seemed to be at a perfect place in their developing young careers.
I think a lot of people, especially in the British press, are forcing themselves to see these boys as the second coming of The Libertines. The songs are plenty similar, but they are so young and untarnished. Like they want to start over with these guys and try and do it right this time. Will they really live up to it all? We'll see. If they don’t, someone will surely swoop in before long and shift our attention to something else.