Vulture Hound Music is looking back at 10 albums which turn 10 years old in 2017. This week Christine Costello looks back at Arctic Monkeys sophomore effort, Favourite Worst Nightmare.
After a phenomenal debut album, 2007 saw the release of Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare; a thrill-filled lament to sex, violence and fame. Their return was faster and louder, sweeping up wide critical-acclaim and solidifying their position as one of the greatest British rock bands of their era.
Favourite Worst Nightmare brought us away from the Sheffield suburb scene and into a whole new realm of songwriting, compiled with the band’s fresh experiences from their tour. It’s quite the drastic change, yet the Arctic Monkey’s still managed to cling to their iconic style of grim storytelling. Songs like ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘This House is a Circus’ paint bleak images of wicked cruelty, coupled with the shrill and addictive riffs of Cook and O’Malley, topped off with a beautiful percussion backdrop from Helders. They were still the same band.
With only a year past since their debut, and in an attempt to capture something completely different, Alex Turner had a lot of maturing to do. But instead of pulling from experience, we see him build up a fictional world of characters. We’re introduced to criminals, suburban wives, creeps and more; some based on fact, others entirely fictional.
‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ accurately portrays the disappointing love life of a middle-aged woman in suburbia. The track completely defies the laws of ‘Write about what you know’, a rule the band were devoted to in their debut. And let’s not forget ‘Brian’, the first character introduced to us through comeback single, ‘Brainstorm’. Brian stood as a symbol for all the phonies and fakes of the noughties; ‘Brainstorm’ was a lesson in how to identify them. Turner is no longer crooning, but barking at his listeners, not too dissimilar to the tracks like ‘Fake Tales from San Francisco’ from their debut.
Although mostly fictional experiences, there’s no denying the enhancements to the emotional depth in Turner’s writing. The impulsive nature of the young teen is long gone, replaced by a more in-depth analysis of what it means to be common and cruel. This is key to selling the fiction. This depth is crucial to the believability of the album and, more importantly, the relatability of Favourite Worst Nightmare. This change from their debut songwriting, albeit a minor one, is what enabled the Arctic Monkeys to truly sell their sequel and sell their faux-development.
The ability to turn these fictional lives into something relatable and universally appealing was not the only impressive thing about Favourite Worst Nightmare. It proved that the Monkeys were far more than a mere fad and would continue to haunt the alternative music industry for years to come. Without a doubt, Favourite Worst Nightmare has since become a staple in indie-rock; it’s classics timeless. Ten years on and you’ll still hear ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ being blasted at a high-school party. Classics never age.