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Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys (Domino)

Have Arctic Monkeys succumbed to difficult second album syndrome? Not a bit of it, although their new release is neither as direct nor immediate as their gob-smacking debut. The songwriting remains razor sharp, even if cuts dealing with the vicissitudes of new found fame (the loneliness of the road, the intrusiveness of the press etc) like ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘If You Were There, Beware’ are less riveting than the social comment and personal relationship songs, which are singer and lyricist Alex Turner’s forte.

‘Do Me A Favour’ is a great is a great break-up song, while the ballad ‘Only Ones Who Know’ takes up where ‘A Certain Romance’ left off, opining They make it far too easy to believe/True romance can’t be achieved these days. ‘The Bad Thing’ concerns infidelity, and is ‘505’ is about missing a girlfriend while touring, when it’s done as movingly as this, who cares? But ‘This House Is A Circus’ is the centrepiece, even informing the cover art, chronicling as it does a dismal party where the participants are ‘forever unfulfilled’, and featuring some of Turner’s most incisive writing, in lines such as Like a search for murder clues in a dead man’s eyes and We’re struggling with the notion that it’s life not film.

 

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The level of musicianship, in such a young band, is also stunningly proficient, and they are already masters of the ‘drop out’, where everyone stops playing except the bass and/or the drums. Perhaps they can never have the ‘from out of nowhere’ impact of the first disc again, but Favourite Worst Nightmare is far from a let down, and nicely consolidates their position as England’s pre-eminent guitar band. One would still expect them to make even better, and more enduring, records in the future.


First published in Magill, June 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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