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Favourite Worst Nightmare

Like The Smiths and The Jam in their heyday, Arctic Monkeys certainly don’t hang around when it comes to releasing new material.

Rating: 7 ½ / 10

Paul Nolan, 18 Apr 2007

Like The Smiths and The Jam in their heyday, Arctic Monkeys certainly don’t hang around when it comes to releasing new material. Just over a year after their celebrated debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the Sheffield quartet have already completed the follow-up. For good measure, the intervening 12 months also saw them release a five-track EP, largely comprised of new songs.

While singer Alex Turner had an impressive turn of phrase and the group undeniably knew how to rustle up a punk-pop stormer, I found Arctic Monkeys harder to get excited about than other breakthrough bands of the past few years, like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. As it happens, Favourite Worst Nightmare, imbued with slightly greater diversity and balance than the first album, is more likely to appeal to the floating voter.

Recorded with Klaxons producer James Ford, the record goes some way towards capturing the heaviness of that band’s live performances (no more so than on the thudding punk of first single and opening track ‘Brianstorm’), but it isn’t in the business of matching the musical imagination of Captain Strobe and co. Arctic Monkeys remain a very English outfit, with Turner continuing to draw his lyrical inspiration from the Northern argot (‘D Is For Dangerous’ certainly represents the first time I’ve heard the phrase “dirty little herbert” deployed on record!).

Musically, too, thumping garage rock a la The Libertines, Babyshambles et al, is still largely the order of the day, although there are welcome signs of experimentation. ‘Only Ones Who Know’ is a dreamy lament with Turner delivering a melancholy lyric over ringing guitar notes, while ‘505’ builds from a near-ambient beginning into a powerful guitar stomper.

There are darker moments on the album too, particularly on the driving ‘This House Is A Circus’, which segues into ‘If You Were There, Beware’, featuring a strange, spacey interlude with a distorted vocal and eerie guitar effects. Overall, however, Favourite Worst Nightmare is still a record based around what Arctic Monkeys do best: furious guitar pop with bucket-loads of energy and attitude. It’s pretty hard to argue with it on those terms.
Rating: 7 ½ / 10

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