Review Summary: Remember when you used to be a rascal?
Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Review by Clumpy
Now that the yesteryear hype of their debut record has worn off, even the naysayers must admit: they may not be the second coming of The Beatles, but they just might be the next Rolling Stones.
That last sentence isn't far off: These venerable young Brits may have shunned mophead haircuts and saucily sexual lyrics in the pursuit of their craft, but their love of hard rocked-up blues riffs and incredible cockiness speaks of something very Jagger (the Beatles were cheeky, but the Stones were cocky). Their dark, taunting sense of humor doesn't quite match up to Franz Ferdinand in sheer apathetic cruelty, but why should it? What wasn't clear on their first release is now cemented: These precocious youngsters, barely out of their teens, are already at the top of their game.
"Favourite Worst Nightmare" explodes at the getgo. I've said this before, but this time I really mean it: The moment you hear the first thirty seconds of opener "Brianstorm" you know you'll be buying this album. It's that simple: Punky, hooky and very, very heavy, the swing riff shatters through your speakers and wins converts at earshot. I'm behind on British slang or I'd have a word ready for this sort of thing.
And for sheer, paranoid, how-can-anybody-possibly-rock-this-hard madness, you can't do much better than the insidiously catchy "If You Were There, Beware", which sort of gains subtlety as it goes along, if you can believe it.
The lyrics are, as mentioned, apathetic and world-weary, but clever as all-get-out. Unlike some bands (cough, sputter, Wilco), Arctic Monkeys don't get their kicks through obscure metaphors and obtuse lyrics. For every lame reference to runny makeup or "Last Laugh Lane", there's an awesome, undeniably British line, like: " . . . and it's wrong, wrong, wrong, but we'll do it anyway, 'cause we love a bit of trouble!" Spoken with appropriate self-destructive glee, of course.
The final impression this album makes on the listener is one of punishingly-heavy rock riffs and punk-intensity vocals, but second and third-listens (and beyond) yield a record of surprising flexibility. "Teddy Picker" feels slightly new wave, and melodic, resonant track "Flourescent Adolescent" earns points for fine emotional songwriting. Not to mention dreamy track "Only Ones Who Know", which shuns drums entirely in favor of pure melody. It's a dreamy, wonderful track. Kudos to the band for making their shtick stick.
And closer "505" hits a perfect melancholy, almost wistful chord - exactly what you need from a closing track. Of course it builds into typical primal energy before the end. But what did you expect?
These guys are practically my age and they have two Top 10 records. Almost makes you want to get off the Halo and do something with your life. Almost.
Read Clumpy's all-knowing blog at clumpy.blogspot.com
Feel free to vote for this review if it tickles your fancy. Much better than a restraining order, that.