I spent this mornings commute to work in the steady Yorkshire rain in a similar way that I often do; dead to the world, barely awake, and listening to the Arctic Monkeys at a tinnitus inspiring volume. Hardly an earth shattering revelation I'll grant you, but the man sat to my left watching an episode of The Office triggered a chain thoughts that began to snowball in my minds eye. It slowly became obvious (to me, at least) that the parallels between the four Arctic Monkeys records to date and the four Gervais/Merchant television projects are undeniable. I'm well aware that the previous statement warrants an explanation, if only to prove that the link I believe I've unearthed isn't as tenuous as it first seems, so explain I shall...
*Album One & Project One*
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not -vs- The Office
The instant classics. The releases that catapulted everyone involved into comparative superstardom. Heralded as breakthrough geniuses and the best in their genre, bringing a new angle and style to their respective fields and perfecting them first time, each debut is undeniably different class. The hype that surrounded them both at the time of release was palpable, everyone that was anyone was talking about them and they became phenomenons in their own right, collecting an impressive array awards to match. The bestselling DVD boxed-set of all time and the fasting selling debut album to boot, the facts and numbers just don't lie. They both share a raw charm, low budget labours of love that excel due to the talent behind them rather than any third party mainstream influence.
*Album Two & Project Two*
Favourite Worst Nightmare -v- Extras
The hype surrounding both second efforts was incredible. Were they one release wonders? Could they do it again? Would the pressure be too much for them? The press was at a frenzy in anticipation for the new material from both, a build up so grand that the result would either be that they would sink or swim. And swim they both did. Essentially, retaining a very similar template to their first efforts, but changing enough not to be criticised too widely for doing the same thing, the success continued and their starts continued to rise. The awards kept rolling in, the critics kept handing out the five star reviews, the sales kept dwarfing competitors and bank accounts continued to swell. Neither pushed the boat out too far, but both created bodies of work worthy of their hype and did more than enough to avoid the fall from grace that could have occurred if they had been unthinkably substandard.
*Album Three & Project Three*
Humbug -v- An Idiot Abroad
Out with the old and in with the new. Away went the familiar templates that had sold millions and in their place arrived fresh innovation. Oh how the single minded recoiled in horror. Opinion was divided, fair-weather fans jumped ship in their moronic droves and new fans were gained in their place. Both worked with new people, instead of Gervais, Karl Pilkington took centre stage in their latest project, his brand of humour proving too much for people who just wanted to see another sitcom, but sleep wasn't lost over the type of viewer that just wanted to see the stupid Brent dance on loop. And the Arctic's did the same, desert sessions with Joshua Homme sculpted an album unlike their previous efforts, progression in the eyes of the educated, regression in the minds of those without. Both also adopted new looks, Gervais trimmed down and started wearing mirrored sunglasses everywhere (the all-black outfits remained) and Merchant grew a beard and bought more expensive and fashionable spectacles (prescription, unlike his partner). The Arctic's grew their hair and started dressing like they wanted to be in the Horrors, gone were the days of stripy jumpers over polo shirts and crew cuts from the local barbers...for everyone other than drummer Matt Helders that is.
*Album Four & Project Four*
Suck It And See -v- Life's Too Short
An amalgamation of all that had gone before; previously successful techniques revamped and re-explored married with new ideas employed to brilliant effect. Popularity and support from critics/fans alike soon rivalled their initial outputs. The evolution was obvious in both, a certain confidence was now evident in both pieces of work, as was an appreciation for their own talent and enjoyment of creativity, rather than becoming slaves to expectation as so many before them have fallen foul to. Cementing their places as artists at the top of their game in their own respects, both managed balance quality with success, something that is becoming increasingly lost in the world of music and television, the success of mainstream dubstep and shows like 'TOWIE' speak for themselves, and only help further highlight the continued quality of the Arctic Monkeys and the Gervais/Merchant partnership.
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