Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

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This was supposed to be a dream of a follow-up to Mercury Prize debut by what was considered at the time (2007) the best band in the land. It was a mixed bag by all accounts and ruffled a few feathers. Nonetheless, the Pigeons give it a coo, albeit a muted one. Here's the review.

A hit debut album can be the worst nightmare for some bands. The Arctic Monkeys had the fastest-selling debut album in UK music history and prompted ecstatic acclaim, two hit singles and the Mercury Prize — scary stuff indeed.

Not much more than a year later the follow-up Favourite Worst Nightmare was another smash for the diffident boys from Sheffield.

The album screamed off the shelves on its release, with single tracks from the album swamping the charts, thanks to a change in the rules that allow downloads to be counted as single sales.

But Favourite Worst Nightmare is a mixed bag from the no-frills Britrockers. First, it's not as good as its remarkable predecessor. That aside, it is still very good indeed.

The Monkeys will find it well nigh impossible to match their remarkable opening hand. However, in the wake of such enormous success, the band is now tougher, leaner, sharper and more self-assured.

Fame, thankfully, has not turned their heads, and Alex Turner's lyrical grip kept him head and shoulders above the UK's rival crop of songwriters.

The bands' musicianship was also exceptional. Many of Matt Helder's drum tracks are awesome and the guitar work of Jamie Cook and Nick O'Malley only enhanced the mix.

So what a shame then that the melodic riffs and stylish anthems are so often sacrificed to tub-thumping aggression. And a bigger shame still that there is no standout track of the calibre of 'A Certain Romance'.

Turner may be one of the best songwriters we've ever had, and his dislike of pseudo fakery was a big plus for the then unknown band from Sheffield, but it doesn't wear so well in what was later considered the best band in the land.

Repeated putdowns of pretentiousness suffer the fate they target. Mocking those kids who 'dream of making it, whatever that means' is a bit rich from a 21-year-old who is making it in spades.

Many of the early tracks stay on stable Monkeys' territory. D Is for Dangerous, Brainstorm and Balaclava are straight out of the debut album's songbook.

The best of the rest begins with Only One Who Knows, a slow and gentle melody that explodes into a minefield of punk destruction, Turner's vocals scratched out with a chain saw.

And the frontman digs into real emotional depth on the break-up anthem Do Me a Favour as it builds to a soaring release.

The album's most clearly marked hit is Fluorescent Adolescent, but there is in fact not a bad song to be found. It is a trifle unfair to measure the tracks against such an astonishing debut.

The Arctic Monkeys seem to have sucked in all the best influences from the past and repackaged them. The resulting style is so disarming, the talent so effortless, they leave their mentors in the shadows no matter what the genre, from arena anthem to retro garage.

Favourite Worst Nightmare may display a few faults when compared to Whatever They Say but it is still one hell of an album and looks certain to send the band way up into the stratosphere.


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