Review Summary: Less immediate than their debut, Favourite Worst Nightmare is nevertheless a solid follow up to their debut that sees Arctic Monkeys explore new musical ground.
Where do you go when you have just released an album that will go down in the annals of time as being a classic that defined its genre? This is the question that Arctic Monkeys had to answer after the whirlwind success of their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
. After succeeding so emphatically with the albums lyrically fuelled post-punk indie-rock aesthetic it was always going to be a difficult task living up to the inevitable media led expectation of an even greater follow up. It was not particularly surprising then that the young quartet decided instead to evolve their ‘trademark’ sound into something a bit different. The challenge in pursuing such a goal is always a risk, but that risk is what makes Favourite Worst Nightmare
that much better, and if anything, a more impressive achievement than their debut.
Being their second full length record one could almost say that the Monkeys had been around the block by the time of Favourite Worst Nightmare’s
release, such is the nature of the modern music trend-hopper’s need instant gratification. Exploring darker textures and mellower subject matter, Favourite Worst Nightmare
sees Alex Turner and company appreciate their world from a more mature perspective while still holding on to their youthful enthusiasm. Indeed the enthusiasm is in full flow from the off, with lead single and album opener Brianstorm
sounding vaguely familiar. Similar to previous opener The View From The Afternoon
commences with a pulsating drumroll that bleeds into a frenetic guitar riff before making way for Turner’s characteristic croon. While Brianstorm
could have integrated seamlessly into Whatever People Say I Am…’s
dynamic spirit, the albums path soon deviates from its successor, with Teddy Picker
and D Is For Dangerous
gradually slowing the tempo.
What follows is a more melodic development, less dependent on clever lyrics and high tempo, spunky guitars to get its point across. As expected Turner’s infectious voice is still at the core of every track but overall Favourite Worst Nightmare’s
is less of a one man show. Unlike on Whatever People Say I Am…
, the individual talents of the band members are flaunted less, and yet collectively they seem more engaged. There’s no doubt they’ve grown as a band, playing off of each other effortlessly and collaborating more proficiently. The interplay in the rhythm section in particular is fantastic with B Is For Balaclava
and Do Me A Favour
seeing drummer Matt Helders and new boy Nick O’Malley in fine form.
Despite this they never quite hit the highs of their debut. The atmosphere, while present over the record as a whole, irritatingly meanders from track to track. If the modest intimacy established in 505
and Only Ones Who Know
was allowed to infiltrate the record more thoroughly then perhaps it would be more engrossing but every time a hint of steadiness emerges, it is interrupted by a change in tempo or tone. In other circumstances this might work just fine, but when combined with the clear lack of distinguishable highlights then the jittery stop-start quality contradicts the smooth coherence that is habitually implied.
It’s unfortunate perhaps that however Favourite Worst Nightmare
turned out it was always going to be subject to intense scrutiny. Though the overall themes falter in comparison to those of their debut, the murkier timbres arguably suit the band member’s individual styles more comfortably. The added consistency with which this brings means that each track is good but because none of them excel in the way that Still Take You Home
and A Certain Romance
did on Whatever People Say I Am…
the flaws are more identifiable.. Had they taken the time to iron out these flaws this could have been an exceptional record, but youthful impatience saw this released just 15 months after their debut. It’s not perfect, few things in life are, but in the end Favourite Worst Nightmare
proves that Alex Turner and company have the skill and vision to dominate their scene for years to come.
Overall 4.0 Excellent