28 April 2007

Arctic Monkeys / Favourite Worst Nightmare / Domino Records [2007]

Last set of WSN album reviews for the semester.

Arctic Monkeys
Favourite Worst Nightmare
Choice cuts:
"The Bad Thing," "505," "Teddy Picker"

Instead of going the way of the Killers and reliving the nightmare that was "Sam's Town," the youthful Brits with the inane name rewrote a page of the Strokes' handbook and did it the "Room on Fire" way. The Strokes squeezed out two solid albums, getting by on little more than squealing riffs and a healthy dose of cool. On "Favourite Worst Nightmare," the Arctic Monkeys replicate the mischievous sensation of their wildly successful debut, spewing similar stories with charm, wit and small-town sex appeal.

Like less dysfunctional Libertines or a less jaded Pulp, Arctic Monkeys rep the UK with that same signature snarl. From the leading track, the breakneck speed of "Brianstorm," complete with its distorted vocal line, resonates like the Monkeys of well, last year. It's not broke, and they sure as hell don't need to fix it. Like "Riot Van" from their debut "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not," they even drop the drums for a track, giving way to the dreamy reverb of "Only Ones Who Know."

Most vital, though, is the snarky, accented sneer of Alex Turner. Those familiar with the band know he has two modes: his higher register of drunken ecstasy and the low end of a groggy hangover. Whichever he employs, Turner has a flair for character study, giving us Anglophiles voyeuristic insight into seedy Sheffield while maintaining universality. Last time, the band relented when the sun went down, but on "Nightmare," they force you to see your mistakes by the light of the morning sun. Small-town shit or big-city hustle, Turner knows the same blokes and birds as you, from the bruisers to the heartbreakers - and it's this realization that keeps us listening the second time around.

- Joseph Coscarelli

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