“Top marks for not trying?”

Not quite, its just that Arctic Monkeys manage to make it look so effortless that it seems as though they aren’t trying, 2007 has seen Brits, Brats, Ivor Novellos, headline slots at Glasto, at T, at Benicassim, at their own massive shows and sell-out arena shows for the Arctic Monkeys and yet some people will tell you its not been a good year for them. Sure, they no longer have the quickest selling debut of all time, taken from them by the shock of a reality TV winner who can hold a tune and quite a few people will tell you that their second album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ isn’t as good as their debut album. Given the hype and hyperbole that surrounded their debut record, the very fact that the band never imploded and started working in their local fish market is reason enough to be happy, what the Arctic Monkeys have given people this year should be celebrated with the sort of fervour that greets an injury-time winner in the Champions League.

If the Monkeys offered up ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ part 2, they would have been torn apart, but any change in direction was never going to be met with 100% praise and although ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ drops its pace a bit at times and theres a world-weary edge to some of the tracks that wasn’t present on the debut, it’s a pretty good indicator of where the bands head was at and is probably the best album they ever likely to make at the time and situation.

Kicking off with ‘Brianstorm’ was a masterstroke as a single and album opener, the immediacy of the intro hooks the listener in and then gradually gives way to another one of Alex Turners tales but its obvious the social scene has shifted. The first album was about broken neighbourhoods, cheap laughs and two-for-one drinks and the new albums opening gambit indicates the band have moved up in the world but are still capable of lyrically picturing the scene they survey, no matter the surroundings. Before the end of the year, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and ‘Teddy Picker’ were plundered for singles with the latter maintaining the bands run of spiky singles that blends biting guitars and a melodic turn in phrase that is as confident as it hummable.

Their live shows have benefited greatly from the increase in variety that the band has at their disposal and equally, looking back at their album after seeing them live has helped some songs come alive. At first listen, ‘505’ was a drab end to the album but after shining in the live arena, relistening to the track with fresh ears picks out the subtlety of the song, allowing the listener to feel the pain of being apart from a loved one that Turner tries to spell out. Tracks like ‘Balaclava’ may not be in your top 3 Monkeys tracks but such is the problem when you are competing with a weighty selection of crowd favourites (two albums and they’ve got a handful of modern day classics already), then some songs are always going to come off a tad worse but in all honesty, even the album tracks piss over the majority of what a lot of bands have churned out as their big tracks for this year.

And the reviews from their end of year arena shows have stated they’ve been playing new material so who knows, there may be something else from the Arctic Monkeys in 2008, they truly are men of the people!