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'Favourite Worst Nightmare': Arctic Monkeys underappreciated second album

In a recent Gigwise article, I ask how an album that gave us so many classics still doesn't get the same adulation as other AM records.

After the release of Favourite Worst Nightmare in April 2007, Alex Turner and his band were absolutely everywhere. Arctic Monkeys' second record went in at number 1 in the UK and brought upon a new wave of acclaim, establishing, without doubt, why they were worthy of their hottest band tag. It really felt like the world (or at least, the UK) belonged to the Arctic Monkeys and the rest of us were lucky to share it with them!

And yet, somehow, this time period in the band’s history feels overlooked. When people speak about peak Arctic Monkeys, it’s an album often underappreciated. Fans gush over the after-midnight bangers of AM, the pulsating garage rock grit of debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, or the desert-rock of Humbug. Many will even see the 2018 concept record Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino as the band's most memorable (ok, that might be a stretch…). As the record turns 15, it’s time we gave Favourite Worst Nightmare the love and attention it deserves!

Released a couple of months before on 18 April 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare went down as an instant classic, suggesting there was far more to the band than had initially met the eye. As the saying goes, you have your whole life to write your first album and only 18 months to write your second. With that in mind, it’s even more impressive that Arctic Monkeys followed up their record-breaking debut a mere 14 months later.

A year earlier, the overwhelming hype had attracted as many doubters as fans, with the “difficult” second album expected to be exactly that. The haters were waiting to pounce, but Arctic Monkeys delivered a fantastic second far more wide-ranging in scope. Thankfully, the expected backlash never arrived. Gone were the one-dimensional, crashing tales of dancefloor romance and teenage shenanigans, in came lyrical-subtly and dynamism. Such progress saw swaggering, radio-friendly bangers (‘Teddy Picker’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’), alongside Morricone-inspired love songs (‘505’), groovey, ominous anthems (‘This House is a Circuit’, ‘Do Me A Favour’) and dreamy numbers (‘Only Ones Who Know’).

Favourite Worst Nightmare would earn them a Mercury Prize nomination and the following February they’d take home the coveted Best British Album at the BRIT Awards. However, more important to the album’s legacy is how it marked Arctic Monkeys as an elite tier band willing to take risks in the pursuit of their development, something they’ve progressed on each album since.


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