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Don't believe the hype!,
This review is from: Favourite Worst Nightmare (Audio CD)
Reviewing this album I feel rather like a jury member in the OJ Simpson trial - so much hype means that everyone has an opinion before they have even heard the evidence. The anticipation that preceded this release was almost akin to when the Stone Roses' "Second Coming" was finally given a release date. Almost, but not quite.
Putting all the hype to one side, the album blasts straight into action with all the force of the A-team in their prime - once BA's flight pills had worn off, of course. "Brianstorm" rips through the walls and blows the house down just like, as the band say themselves, the "unforecasted storm". It sounds like the Arctic Monkeys, but cranked up from 10 to 11. At this point you begin to actually believe that maybe, just maybe, a band could, for once, live up to the hype.
"Teddy Picker" continues the trend by giving a reminder of "Fake Tales of San Francisco" but again, cranked up a notch. The lyrics are, as is always the case with Alex Turner, interesting and open to interpretation. This song ends with the line "Who'd want to be men of the people when there's people like you?" The lyric is, in keeping with much of the rest of the album, mainly about sex. Does the reference to "Teddy" refer to underage sex? Perhaps we'll never know - and maybe it's best if we don't open that can of worms.
Thankfully, in amongst all of riffage and whirlwind drumming, there are still some moments of genuine charm, the like of which first attracted this writer to the band. "Fluorescent Adolescent" sounds like a younger brother of "Mardy Bum". The lyric is just as cheeky as the musical content of the song ("She likes a gentleman to be gentle. Was it a Mecca dabber or a betting pencil?") and it all comes together to produce the album's outstanding track.
"Only Ones Who Know" is that strangest of things - an Arctic Monkeys track without drums. It relies on ghostly guitar sounds and, in the midst of all else, doesn't really work. The song is rather like the Strokes' "Ask Me Anything", in that it sounds like it took a wrong turn and ended up in the Arctic Monkeys' catalogue by accident. This track actually marks the beginning of a low on the album from which it never really recovers.
The next track to stand out is "This House Is A Circus". The line "we're struggling with the notion that it's life, not film" could be meant to mean many different things but perhaps it best illustrates that Turner himself has been living in a bubble, created by the media. In many ways, he is living in a movie, or perhaps a movie diary, where his every move is documented and analysed. It could, therefore, be difficult for him to step out into the real world.
The album closes with a second quiet number, "505". This song is perhaps more fitting than "Only Ones Who Know" in that musically it sounds like it is signalling the end of something, perhaps the end of Turner's own movie. It is not, however, the way a truly classic album would end (listen to "I am The Resurrection" to find out how it ought to be done). It may, though, signal a change of direction for this band, perhaps they have taken things as far as they can in this genre. Will their "difficult" third album contain influence from Sinatra or the Sugababes? Time will tell.
Overall, the album has some excellent tracks but a few that fail to capture the attention of the listener. It will never be given "classic" status but is a good addition to their debut album. "Favourite Worst Nightmare" falls short of expectation and is not the album the world has been waiting for. Never believe the hype. 6/10