Favourite Worst Nightmare
Released by Domino
I slept on the Arctic Monkeys. Glossing over lead singer Alex Turner’s insightful and quirky lyricism and the band’s fusion of rebelliously frenetic guitars with dance-pop melodies, I dismissed the band as a low-grade teen version of Franz Ferdinand and the indie rock phenom-of-the-moment. But then I heard the band’s sophomore release Favourite Worst Nightmare. After listening to the twelve bass-heavy, post-disco-punk, chav-accented tracks I revisited last years’ widely-acclaimed debut Whatever They Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and it’s apparent that the UK-based quartet has evolved. Manic guitars and voluminous drums still heavily figure into the Arctic’s sound but, in its entirety, the record is more cohesive and controlled without losing its edge and sounding overly produced (James Ford, who did production work for the Klaxons, lent a hand).
Not entirely abandoning the nightlife of northern England—a perpetual setting for many tracks from the first album—Favourite Worst Nightmare retains the roguish charm of the debut but tempers youthful abandon with a more reflective, post-adolescent perspective. Referencing the brazen sound that the band is known for, raucous guitars and chanting chorus lines sung in schoolboy unison, create chaos through the first four tracks including lead single “Brianstorm.”
However the record really takes off with the buoyant charm and witty lyricism of slated second single “Fluorescent Adolescent.” Turner writes with a kind of strange and peculiar precision about a middle-aged housewife past her sexual peak and liltingly sings, “You used to get it in your fishnets/Now you only get it in your nightdress/Discarded all the naughty nights for niceness/Landed in a very common crisis.” And gone is the starry-eyed puppy love of youth, replaced with the cynicism of heartbreak on the roving and surprisingly profound “Do Me A Favour” (“How to tear apart the ties that bind?/Perhaps ‘fuck off’ might be too kind”) and organ-tinted closer “505.” But it’s the second-to-last “Old Yellow Bricks,”—an Oz-referencing tale about out-running delusions of grandeur—that exhibits what the band does best as Turner’s vocals mockingly weave through thumping dance floor-friendly drums and grating guitars.
The infectious brilliance of Favourite Worst Nightmare’s latter tracks redeems its rocky start. Clambering up from the rough-and-tumble brashness of their debut, the Arctic Monkeys utilize their knack for loud and frenzied playing with enough restraint on their sophomore effort to reveal their growth, not just in life experience, but as musicians as well.