Arctic Monkeys - When the Sun Goes Down

Emily Tartanella 13/02/2006

Rating: 4/5

Odds are you've already made up your mind about Arctic Monkeys: they're either saviors of rock or hopelessly traditional imitators. They'll change your life or leave you coldly dismissive. With all the hype over their latest #1 record success story (a feat achieved with relatively no advertising campaign), Arctic Monkeys are set up for great or terrible things.

But if nothing else, they have the songs. “When the Sun Goes Down” just happens to be one of their strongest, an manically forceful tale of hookers and the scumbags who love them. Fittingly, this song was known as “Scummy” in online circles before its release, and though it may have undergone a name change, it stays the same where it matters: diabolical guitar chords, furious vocals, and more of the classic scuzz-punk the Monkeys are already known for.

It's another tale of urban dystopia, not of girls who look good on the dancefloor but a tragic saga of girls who look cheap on the street. Starting off all mournful (“So who's that girl there?/I wonder what went wrong”) and seeming like your average after-school special, in comes Alex Turner's patented sneer and a frantic, punky hook. Just as darkness falls so enters that ferocious blast of fuzz-guitar, releasing a hidden world beneath the cozy façade: a world full or pimps and tarts; full of red lights and black bruises.

Switching from humour (“She don't do major credit cards/I doubt she does receipts”) to pathos (“She understands she's here to get picked up”) faster than the cops can pick up a john, “When the Sun Goes Down” is a madcap rush of brutal teenage anger at the neglect of those society leaves behind. And that epic chant of “They say it changes when the sun goes down!” can rouse you even if the hype is already prickling beneath your skin.

“What a scummy man,” Alex concludes breathlessly, and as the song draws to a finish it seems to collapse from the sheer passion involved. So maybe they won't make it; maybe they can't sustain this kind of gorgeous, heart-thumping energy. But what will be will be, and even if they fail this will still be brilliant.