Young indie rockers Arctic Monkeys, who made history with Britain’s fastest-selling debut album in
2006, are out to prove they are no one-hit wonders with their second record released on Monday.
Critics wonder if the weight of expectation will be too much for the musicians from the northern city of Sheffield, among the first to make it big by harnessing the power of the Internet.
Alexis Petridis, music critic for the Guardian newspaper, called “Favourite Worst Nightmare” arguably the most anticipated second album in a decade.
Judging by early reviews and the reaction of fans at gigs across the country, the followup to the record-breaking
“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” will bolster the Monkeys’ reputation rather than blow it.
“Favourite Worst Nightmare is totally the equal of its predecessor,” Andrew Perry wrote in the Telegraph.
Pete Paphides added in the Times: “How do you follow up the best debut album in years? In Arctic Monkeys’ case, with the best second album,” adding that it was “a dream come true.”
Jonny Bradshaw, from the independent Domino label that signed the band, said he was gratified to see attention turn to the music and away from the hype.
“The emphasis for once is on the band and on the music and people are less worried about whether it will it be bigger than the first album,” he said after a concert in central London where the performance was typically popular and polished.
“People are just saying that it’s great, and they have bypassed the dreaded second album syndrome,” he told Reuters.
Still, there is no avoiding the fact that “Favourite Worst
Nightmare” will be compared to its predecessor.
In a sign of how confident Domino is, 400,000 copies are being made for its opening on the British market.
“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” sold 1.2 million copies in Britain, 364,000 of them in the first week.
The band picked up the coveted Mercury Prize for best
British album in September and repeated that success in
February by winning best British group and album prizes at the Brits.
Over the last year they also underlined their reputation for shunning the trappings of rock’n’roll excess, shying away from publicity, dressing normally and focusing on the music.
Bradshaw said 21-year-old lead singer Alex Turner had produced a “faster, meaner” album this time around that reflected the band’s travels around the world more than local stories of the first record.
“Brianstorm,” the first single released from the album this week, is a song laden with sarcasm about a smooth-talking stranger who walked into their dressing room in Japan.
The track is up against pop queen duet Beyonce and
Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar” in a battle for the number one slot on Sunday, and, in the words of the Sun tabloid, the “beauties” were beating the “beasts” by midweek.
Domino is seeking to shrug off the outcome of that particular race, stressing the long-term future of its act.
“They are proper career band,” Bradshaw said. “The way they have underplayed everything will stand them in great stead — there is none of this flash-in-the-pan stuff.”