Favourite Worst Nightmare
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5
Written by Melissa Stroh
When the British boys ó and, in this case, the term is used literally ó known as the Arctic Monkeys splashed onto the American scene with their full-length debut Whatever People Say I Am, Thatís What Iím Not, music fans began to salivate. The fresh-faced lads went toe-to-toe with other exotic outfits ó such as Wolfmother and The Subways ó and they won. There was something about the way in which Alex Turner slurred his debauchery-filled, late-night exploits with a seemingly shameless pounding of drums and slick bass lines. Now, the Arctic Monkeys is back with Favourite Worst Nightmare, and everyone is wondering if the group can deliver the goods a second time.
Favourite Worst Nightmare is definitely an album that needs time to grow. To put it another way, it is not nearly as instantaneously pleasurable as Whatever People Say I Am, Thatís What Iím Not. Honestly, though, is anything ever as good as the first time? Didnít think so. Teddy Picker, the opening track on Favourite Worst Nightmare, has that now-classic Arctic Monkeys-style guitar line, but the questioning subject matter and bold one-liners donít mix quite as well as they did on the bandís previous efforts. Still, if they are given the chance, Turnerís quick delivery and boyish defiance become irresistible.
Nevertheless, Favourite Worst Nightmare exudes a darker tone that can be discerned even amidst the punch-drunk guitar lines. The members of the Arctic Monkeys seem to be slowing down to examine the mayhem they wreaked on Whatever People Say I Am, Thatís What Iím Not, and maturely, they take the time to reflect upon it. Songs ó such as the standout Flourescent Adolescent and the espionage-sounding If You Were There, Beware ó offer storylines of people who are looking at their past behavior and are contemplating the havoc that they have caused. At one point during the former tune, Turner sings, "Everythingís in order in a black hole/Nothing seems as pretty as the past though."
No matter how much destruction lies in its wake, the Arctic Monkeys still reaches for and embraces those incidents. Its continued desire to be in the midst of scandalous events can be seen later in Favourite Worst Nightmare, particularly during tracks like This House Is a Circus and The Bad Thing. In the former song, Turner spits out stories of a drunken frat-type environment, while the latter tune delves into the ubiquitous, married-woman myth that, apparently, gals are always more attractive when theyíre taken. The Bad Thingís opening line sets up all of the glorious scenes and imagery that follow, and Turner bluntly sings, "Do the bad thing/Take off your wedding ring."
Favourite Worst Nightmare also includes a response to the Arctic Monkeysí critics as well as a few odes to good, old-fashioned homesickness. Overall, the album contains just the right mixture of debauchery and meditation. The bandís lyrics have progressed since its debut, and so have its arrangements. Although Favourite Worst Nightmare is darker than the Arctic Monkeyís previous endeavor, itís still well worth hearing.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box