Depending on your enthusiasm for British music, the following comment is either the supreme compliment or a snort of derision: I think the Arctic Monkeys are better than Oasis ever were.
Yeah, I don’t care about Oasis. And I was never that keen on the Arctic Monkeys to be honest. Until I heard their new single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and watched a video of them headlining this year’s Glastonbury.
Whatever it is, I get it now. To the extent that on the back of this song alone I’d wager they’re the best band in the UK at the moment. What is it that changed my mind?
I think it’s lead singer Alex Turner’s new haircut.
The band got big during my first year of university in Lancaster so neither their observations nor their accents ever struck me as remarkable. Basically, if I wanted to hear some spotty Northerner make a cheeky observation about kebabs or nightlife I had only to cross the corridor. I was bored with every sentiment on their first album before I’d even pressed play.
However, after much time spent in the desert with Josh Homme and a new look, the band now remind me a lot less of the dickheads I met queuing outside nightclubs on cold Lancaster nights. I know Turner’s new 50s quiff shouldn’t change anything, but somehow it changes everything.
The music is better too, if you’re wondering. ‘Do I Wanna Know’ is a stoner rock incarnation of The Black Keys with bass that sounds like it’s been coated in Brylcream. It’s just so damn slick. There’s also exactly the right amount of wit and mischief in the lyrics:
How many secrets can you keep?
‘Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow
And I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep
Spilling drinks on my settee
Then there’s the fantastic animated acid trip of a music video directed by David Wilson. Visually, it reminds me a little bit of the hallucination sequences in the Heavy Metal episode of South Park. You know, the one where the boys snort cat piss to get high?
That’s just another reminder of how far the Artic Monkeys have come since life on a Sheffield housing estate.