This week Daily Music writers look back at — and reconsider — less modern pieces of music.
As we enter 2017, it seems only fitting to look back on some of the most pivotal albums from the year 2007, now shockingly a decade ago. As I was a mere eleven years old at the time, my music taste was still very questionable, and I’m not going to go into detail about the albums I listened to back then (Linkin Park, anyone?). Instead, a brief Google search tells me that the Arctic Monkeys’ sophomore album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, was released that year. At the time of its release, there was a lot of pressure on the band to produce something as strong as their record-breaking first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Of course, this pressure was unnecessary — the album has since gone triple platinum in the UK.
From the first chords of FWN, it’s loud, brash and very fast. This is the ‘classic’ Arctic Monkeys’ sound that so many people fell in love with, and it’s a defining album of indie rock in the mid-late ‘00s. The band is now a regular festival headliner, and it’s hard to imagine they were destined for anything else when listening to this album. The songwriting prowess has been there from the very start. If you stripped the album to just a single instrument, it would still be a great listen.
In stand out track “505,” a song about romance and distance — the remnants of the band’s long world tour before this album is clear. This is a more cultured band than they were in their debut, and it shows in nearly all of the tracks. Frontman Alex Turner seems more self-aware, and the instrumentals carry a wide array of influences, like The Smiths and Oasis. This is an album that was written on the fly, with nearly half the tracks performed and played live before the album was even released. But, for such a speedy release and apparently thrown-together track list, there are no signs of sloppiness. With perfect production, there is no drop in quality from their debut album.
Although musically FWN still stands on its own, some of the lyrics are somewhat jarring, even ironic now. Turner has always written about “fakes” and “the industry” with an outsider’s perspective (see: “Fake Tales of San Francisco” from their debut, and “Brianstorm” from FWN). But considering where the Arctic Monkeys are now, that struggle with the concept of fame feels odd in retrospect — they’re now a major, mainstream band. Compared to their most recent album, AM, which has songs about Alexa Chung, and others inspired by Drake and Lil Wayne, this album is a large jump in tone. FWN era Arctic Monkeys were those cool indie kids from Sheffield who built a following on Myspace. On AM, Arctic Monkeys have all moved to Los Angeles and now ride motorcycles in the Mojave desert in their free time.
Clearly, artistic progression isn’t a bad thing, and the band is an example of that. With the several albums between FWN and AM, Arctic Monkeys have showcased all manners of style, and the individual members of the bands have explored their own voice (drummer Matt Helders played for Diddy under an alias). It’s a testament to just how good this band has been throughout their varied, decade-long existence. You can still go to an indie night club and hear “Brianstorm” sung back to the DJ, almost word for word, ten years later. That’s how you know you’ve written a classic.