Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

Arctic Monkeys
Favourite Worst Nightmare

Fresh off their successful 2006 debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys return with the very solid, Favourite Worst Nightmare. Ultimately, it ends up being one fantastic follow-up that brims at the sides with vehement energy. Their brand of loose and meticulous rock, aggressive and serene singing and impressive musicianship is consummate.

“Brianstorm” is the fierce, intense opener that showcases the band’s ability to start and stop on a dime. Once the song ends the drums kick to start “Teddy Picker.” Although it features more of a sparkling guitar and more of a steady drum pattern as opposed to the in-your-face approach of the opener, it is still impeccably precise and utterly enjoyable.

Even potential dud, “Balaclava” is tons better than what a lot of other rock bands are putting out. Heck, the breakdown coda makes the song entirely worthwhile. Arctic Monkeys don’t just play the same type of song for the entire album and call it a day—they have so many dimensions and aspects to their music. They feature the straight-ahead material like “Teddy Picker,” sure, but they also have the growing culminating songs of “505” and “Old Yellow Bricks” and the beautifully scored, “Only Ones Who Know.”

The album is intelligently sequenced; they picked the twelve best songs and in turn, ordered them perfectly. Once the fifth song hits, “Fluorescent Adolescent,” and it’s brilliance shines all around: the drumming and guitar riff after the chorus, the syncopated guitar during the verse or maybe those poignant lyrics of “You’re not coming back again”—everything works. And it’s this kind of musical talent and prowess that happen at the right time of the album that it hits you, “Dang, this is one good album by a very good band.” And just when you think it can’t really get any better, the dreamy “Only Ones Who Know” arrives after “Fluorescent Adolescent” and rather easily, you’re flattened.

Fittingly, the next song “Do Me a Favour” begins with another great drum pattern. Sure, this one starts off nice and soft, adding more and more instruments as it goes by. However, the difference is that the Monkeys take off and explode for the last minute or so. The album goes off into the same territory from here; this is where it got the tag of being “very, very fast and very, very loud” in comparison to its predecessor. However, if the three and a half song run (from the end of “Do Me a Favour” to “The Bad Thing”) is where the album is drastically different from their debut, it surely doesn’t lose any quality.

The last two songs are where again, the sequencing is genius. “Old Yellow Bricks” effortlessly flows along while the menacing guitar lick comes in and out. There are tempo shifts, style variations and like other parts of songs on the album, a breakdown where it gets stylistically grittier. “505” begins with an organ that is said to be taken directly from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and this particular shift in instrumentation and entirely new form is striking. Eventually the song grows into an intense climactic ending as Turner emotionally belts, “But I crumble completely when you cry.” And it’s easy to say that by the time this album ends, you’re definitely flattened.