After burning a path through the indie rock world with their fiery mix of ADD punk jams and ballroom crooning with their first album, the Arctic Monkeys have dropped their sophomore album amidst eager anticipation. On Favourite Worst Nightmare, the band keeps up their pace with more healthy doses of blustery grunge-pop and singer Alex Turner’s trademark rapid-fire narrative. It might not be as radio-friendly, but it’s no slump.
Favourite Worst Nightmare blasts off on a strong note, “Brianstorm”. Thick distortion and breakneck drums force the booze-soaked fury into motion. This is easily the loudest song on the album, and it’s slightly misleading as the first track on the album. The next tracks, “Teddy Picker” and “D Is for Dangerous” aren’t as overly dense and carry a more-swinging beat. After the galloping “Balaclava”, the band spreads out into a greater variety of rhythms and moods.
The latter half of the Favourite Worst Nightmare shows off far more directions. “Fluorescent Adolescent” is a throwback rock tune with a flowing organ and tinge of innocent fun. “Only Ones Who Know” is quiet and still and functions as a nice intermission. “This House Is a Circus” and “If You Were There, Beware” are powerful jams, but more intent than the ones that kicked the album off. “505”, the album’s closer, features the organ from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and develops from a cool sonata to a high-flying, classic britpop jam. It’s perhaps the best way to the end album while hinting at even more to come.
When a band has an undeveloped album and a couple of strong singles, it’s hard to escape the weight of the hits. In the Arctic Monkeys case, they had a highly developed sound as well as the singles, which made it much easier to succeed the second time around. They develop their music even further on Favourite Worst Nightmare while still using what got them this far. It’s a nice glance back, a good time for now, and interesting look ahead.