Favourite Worst Nightmare
Come one, come all! Come see the latest British sensation. Fully equipped with quirky accents and a reckless frontman, can the band top their debut?
Oh by the way, this isn’t Oasis. Or the other overseas bands that have tried to pull the overseas crossover act only to fade into obscurity. These are the Arctic Monkeys, a few laid-back kids eager to produce music. Don’t expect to find them at your local pub, though; they’re still waiting on the last of their bandmates to turn 21.
‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ was the fastest-selling debut in Britain and took home the prestigious Mercury Prize over other English acts like Thom Yorke and Muse. There were huge expectations for their second album, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare,’ with their fans hoping for them to top themselves and the critics waiting for them to fall flat on their faces.
The Arctic Monkeys are nothing revolutionary like some of their fans may claim they are, but they write undeniably accessible indie pop songs with sly lyrics. This album does not let down anyone who enjoyed their first album. It starts off in a fury with the explosive ‘Brainstorm,’ the first single. This song really sets the scene for the entire album. The next track, ‘Teddy Picker,’ is vintage Arctic Monkeys, combining a funky bassline with a slick guitar.
But of course the Monkeys are no stranger to making fun danceable tunes, and they continue to do more of the same. ‘D is for Dangerous’ and ‘If You Were There, Beware’ are driven by a simple drumline and fit into the soft/loud dynamics that have made the band popular, rocking the chorus and calming the verses. ‘Old Yellow Bricks’ is of a similar ilk, powered by a thumping bass along with a chorus that teeters on sounding like something from My Bloody Valentine.
Speaking of shoegaze tendencies, the elegant ‘Only Ones Who Know’ is definitely a highlight on this album. This mellow track doesn’t even have any drums. This is a welcomed sign for fans hoping the Arctic Monkeys would expand their sound. Alex Turner’s somewhat mournful lyrics are highlighted on this track as he gently sings, ‘And even if somehow we could have shown / You the place you wanted / Well I’m sure you could have made it / That bit better on your own.’
‘Balaclava’ is a rollercoaster ride with Turner singing us a story set at his usual fast pace. ‘Fluorescent Adolescent,’ a fan favorite, shows the Monkeys at their loveable best. This song is simply fun, from the lyrics that Turner pulls out of nowhere to the otherwise boring guitar riffs that complement the ska chords the rhythm guitar plays so perfectly. These guys were meant to be on the radio.
There are a couple of songs that feel rushed, but you still can’t resist tapping your foot to them. ‘This House Is a Circus’ is quirky and interesting, but sounds more like a part of a song that has been stretched out three minutes. ‘The Bad Thing’ has a few jumpy riffs to spice up the song a bit, but it also drags as the song wears on.
Two more songs vital in showing the Monkeys growth are ‘Do Me a Favour’ and ‘505.’ Instead of relying on the aforementioned soft/loud verse/chorus dynamic, both of these songs drastically change their musical dynamic from soft brooders to all-out rockers. These two tracks very refreshingly show the Monkeys’ potential. It’s fitting that ‘505’ closes the album.
The Arctic Monkeys may not be the most unique band, sounding like the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and Fratellis, but they are good at what they do and are moving in the right direction. They might not have the swagger that a band like The Strokes exudes, but, with music like this, they’ll get there.