Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare – 4/5 Narks
The Sheffield, England-based Arctic Monkeys stormed onto the indie rock scene last year with an unprecedented amount of internet/myspace buzz and a party-starter single, “I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor”. The success translated into a #1 album (“Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”) in the U.K., the coveted 2006 Mercury album prize, and the crown of “fastest-selling debut album in British chart history.” The Arctic Monkeys quickly gained buzz as “the next great Brit band” in the U.S. and the pressured mounted for their stateside arrival. Surprisingly, the album failed to match the commercial splash it made in the U.K. (debuted at #24, 34,000 copies), but was still revered by critics, bloggers, and fans alike. Wasting no time, the Arctic Monkeys are back (less than 6 months later) with the solid sophomore effort “Favourite Worst Nightmare”.
“Favourite Worst Nightware” is hardly a bad dream but showcases a faster, louder, more focused sound, that shows the band’s growth over the past year. The race begins on “Brainstorm” with adrenaline-laden guitar strums that could be mistaken for a tornado. This ode to a fashion conscious, Cassanova-type bloke named “Brian”, easily matches the intensity of “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor”, while painting a telling portrait of the main character. The tales of infidelity and romance gone awry continue on as the album progresses. “The Bad Thing” sounds like a story the aforementioned “Brian” might use to entice an an engaged female into trouble at an upbeat tempo. “Do Me A Favour” starts slow, incorporating a surf-like beat on the road to impending doom. It is very effective in making sure the listener takes note of the story that unfolds and ends with a bang (as a bad break-up would).
“Nightmare” only drifts into the shadows in a few places, on the psychedelic, but bluesy “Only Ones Who Know” and “This House Is A Circus” (skippable, but not terrible). “Only Ones Who Know” seems out of place, but gives the listener a chance to breathe before the next hit parade.
“Teddy Picker” shines as a criticism of reality stars trying to steal the spotlight from talented performers the easy way over a bouncy beat. Lead singer, Alex Turner, questions their motives and asks ” D’you reckon that they do it for a joke?/D’you reckon that they make ’em take an oath?.” “505” fittingly ends with a “nightmare”, as Turner leaves heartbroken without the person he longs for. As a send off, the song shouts “I’m going back to 505/If its a 7 hour flight or a 45 minute drive/In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side/With your hands between your thighs and a smile.”
The Arctic Monkeys have made of what could have been a sophomore slump, into a solid follow-up to a great debut. Turner is great at weaving interesting tales of faltering relationships and vulnerable situations over more than complimentary Brit rock. He has a penchant for making the listener think they are actually in a dim-lit bar watching these events take place. The Arctic Monkeys should easily shed the “nightmare” of being labeled the latest “over-hyped” British band in 2007.