ARCTIC MONKEYS – Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino)

Another second album that has a lot to live up to, and in the Monkey’s case I think it is even more than Arcade Fire. The debut was heaped with such praise that it is almost certain that this release will suffer in comparison, although with tracks of the calibre of ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘D Is For Dangerous’ they are definitely making the effort. Lead single ‘Brianstorm’ is the Monkey’s at their heaviest, with flailing guitars over a storming riff, and the story of a motormouth who invaded the band’s dressing room in Japan. ‘Teddy Picker’ is more influenced by the first album, with its lightweight tune and Alex Turner’s lyrical obsession with sex, but ‘D Is For Dangerous’ is more like it, with the Strokes-y feel of its guitars and Turner’s down to earth lyrics, which also provide the album with it’s title. ‘Balaclava’ is the album’s most accessible track, although whether it is single material is another matter. A memorable riff and loud/quiet/loud section all make this the one to hear if you want an introduction to the album. ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ is another song about sex, but this time about not getting it, and remembering how good it used to be. Set to another rocking tune, it emphasises Turner’s lyrical turn of phrase. Next we get something of a first – an Arctic Monkeys ballad. And a pretty good job they make of it as well, with the band reining in their exuberance to provide a suitably moving backing to Turner’s tale of lost romance. It can’t last for long, though, and ‘Do Me A Favour’ sees the band back doing what they do best. ‘This House Is A Circus’ attempts to out-Klazon the Klazons, with its funky groove under a melange of guitars, while ‘If You Were There, Beware’ drops the funk and ups the guitars to give us a heavy metal intro, before the songs develops into a strange mix of rock guitar riffs and an atmospheric centrepiece. ‘Old Yellow Bricks’ is another song that would have fitted perfectly on that debut, with its staccato riffing and loose-limbed rock feel. ‘505’ ends the album with one of their best melodies – a gentle tune which gives Turner a chance to pen a yearning lyric remembering times gone by. The band do take the opportunity to turn the volume up half way through, but it is still an effective ending to a fine album. Is it as good as the debut? Well, I must admit that I don’t play that record as much as I thought I would when I first got it, as it is one of those albums that gets a bit too familiar if you play it too often. This one, however, seems to have more variety to it, and should withstand repeated plays a bit better. Let’s be honest, though, if you are a fan you are going to get it anyway, and when you do you won’t be disappointed.