Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arctic Monkeys = The Pixies

I’ll tell you the truth. I have not been shirking my duty of posting to my blog. The point of this blog is mainly for me to weigh in on good or bad music that I am hearing. I want to recommend or warn you about the best or worst that is out there. This, in and of itself, requires that I diligently listen to new music. It's not that I haven’t been doing this. But again, in all honesty, I cannot stop listening to the new Arctic Monkeys. I start other records, but by the time I get near the middle of the any other record, I find myself going back to Suck It And See. Every day, all day. Right now, it feels like a perfect record.

Recently, while discussing the ins and outs of this record with a friend, we came to find that we had both come to the same conclusion. It terms of analogous records released and career trajectory, the Arctic Monkeys were following the path of another one of my beloved bands: The Pixies. And thus it was no wonder that I was so head over heels in love with this new LP. The Arctic Monkeys had finally reached their Doolittle.

Let me break down the analogy. As much as I love other Pixies records, most can agree that in terms of everything they stood for, considering all of their touchstone influences and dissecting each song from beginning to end, Doolittle was the best version of the Pixies. It was the moment when it all came together. The fast surf rock, the loud angry weird punk styling, the wistful light airy dream songs all came together on Doolittle. Add to this the fact that they finally found their mass appeal “pop hit” in Hear Comes Your Man, and you must admit that no matter what the other records brought, the most perfect Pixies are the Doolittle-era Pixies.
And the same goes for the Arctic Monkeys. Suck It and See gives us the heavy Sabbath sludge rock, their brilliant beyond their years lyricism, their smarter than thou punk attitude, and their mortally wounded shattered fragile ego youthful love lost moments that had all come before in each previous record, but now have another level of musicianship and production. Their split personalities had been on show with each successive record, but finally it all stood under one banner in one cohesive breath. And I’ll venture that the Shalalala might be their Here Comes Your Man.

But I'll take this analogy to it's logical conclusion. Let’s look at the other Arctic Monkeys releases under the Pixies rule:

Come On Pilgrim : Whatever People Say I Am,...
Punk rock in its DIY aesthetic, tempo and lyrical nonsense. A reluctant voice for what real kids are doing right at that moment. A voice crying out in the desert of a contextual wasteland of music with no real sense of what the smartest kids in the room already know. A litany of ideas churned out fast and quick, with no remorse or expectations of acceptance.

Surfer Rosa : Your Favorite Worst Nightmare
The statement record to prove that they were the real thing. Still hard and fast, but shined to a glossier finish, as it to prove that a record deal and some plaudits wouldn’t make a difference in either their ire or their attitudes.

Bossanova : Humbug
While the Pixies used this excursion to explore the lush and vast atmospherics of production sonics instead of the gritty sharp surf rock riffs, the Arctic Monkeys used this release to create new version of themselves that few were ready to accept, the heavy sludgy devil’s note rock of Black Sabbath and QOTSA. But both of these records have the same mission of upsetting the apple cart. While their Bossanova-era peers were stripping down indie rock to it’s most lo-fi nadir, the Pixies turned in the opposite direction and softened their edges and create their most textured and lush and sonically cohesive statement to date. Single minded and laser pointed to give a new version of what everyone had come to expect of them. The same is true for Humbug. As their peers went to the freak folk, twee, sunny beach girl group fuzziness, the Arctic Monkeys came back with a vengeance in black leather, heavy riffs and slow pile driver beats. They were no longer the snotty cheeky kids we once knew, they had transformed themselves into the kids with the long hair, the kids who smoked in the bathroom and had made the conscious decision to get their kicks while they were still young enough to enjoy them. (I know there's a bit of a mix up in order of release here but still...)

And finally, we have Doolittle : Suck It And See
The moment when all of the differing versions of each of these two bands came to their necessary convergence. Both are mixed with the best of their selves, the punk, the noise, the lyrics and the aesthetics, as well as the maturity, the mastery and the context. Both of these records were the line in the sand. All that was past was prologue to these LPs, and their arrival made even the previously amazing moments seem like just one step short of this.

Now does this mean that Trompe Le Monde is next and the inevitable demise of the band is imminent? Let’s hope not. But let’s not forget,Trompe Le Monde did have some stellar moments.

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Blogger BOAZ said...

Miguel, first of all you got yourself a new follower, it seems like you share my passion for music and British culture as well as the football part.
As far as this arctic Monkeys album i disagree, with all the respect the Pixies were brought something totally new into the scene, it was fresh and blew your mind, Arctic has bits of that but i can hear too many bands in their music still, I'm not saying its not good just saying its not as new and innovative! Doolittle is a master piece!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Cockfosters said...

I can see how any big Pixies fan would feel that way. But think about this in context. You probably heard the Pixies about the same time I did, our impressionable teen years in the late 80s. At that time I didn't know enough about Link Wray or Pet Sounds or Television or Luis Bunuel or any of what the Pixies were channeling. If you were 15 yrs old right now, and didn't know the touchstones that the Arctic Monkeys are pulling from, and had heard nothing but Girls Aloud, Busted, The Black Eyed Peas and Avril Lavigne your whole life, I think this record just might blow your mind.

9:07 PM  

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