Many people will say that the best Arctic Monkey’s best album is their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006), but these people are wrong. This, their sophomore album, is that debut on pure adrenaline, doing everything better with more passion and excitement. Their sound on Favourite Worst Nightmare is a fast, spontaneous, energetic and loud Rock. Like a Punk album, every song feeds into each other and they pick up the baton and start sprinting. In a way Arctic Monkeys picked up where The Strokes left off, and took their sound into a faster Punk/Pop sound, but that might be a bit of a stretch.
Brianstorm kicks off the album with a flurry of drums and a guitars, and as the single for the album it sets the tone perfectly. The song is about a guy who snuck into their dressing room to meet the band, they were thrown off by his look and appearance and then wrote the song about him. I really like the production on this album, no member of the band fades into the background. They all play at a frantic pace expertly, and songs like D Is For Dangerous showcase every member very well. That song keeps building and building to seriously energetic climax, as well as having the album title in the lyrics. Fluorescent Adolescent is a cheeky and amusing song about an aging beauty who isn’t getting the attention she used to. I love how they mix the chorus and first verse together at the end, it’s a great way to bring it full circle. Only Ones Who Know ends the first half of the album with a slow dance song which feels like paint drying in slow motion compared to the other songs. It’s not as boring as watching paint drying, on the contrary it’s a pretty smooth but sad song of unrequited love. It’s tone is echoed in the final track 505, but more on that later.
Do Me A Favour picks up the pace slowly, building to an angry and explosive finale, with everyone playing as loud as possible as singer Alex Turner spits out the lines “perhaps ‘fuck off’ might be too kind”. His voice is usually distorted a little but I love the clean vocals on that track, makes the bitter vitriol that much more honest. After that though is my favorite song on the album, This House Is A Circus. It accomplishes perfectly what the rest of the album tried to accomplish: it’s an electrifying song played at a dizzying pace but remains insanely catchy and memorable. Every band member is playing out of their minds, the bass is frantic and psychedelic, and the guitars are loud and fuzzy. Matt Helders gets props for playing a blood pumping drum set, but also singing backing vocals on it (and the other songs), especially in the end when they mix the chorus and verse together just like on Fluorescent Adolescent. They finish off Favourite Worst Nightmare with 505, another slow song like Only Ones Who Know. This time however it’s much more heartbreaking, especially with the delivery of the line “but I crumble completely when you cry!”. This album is absolutely fantastic and it’s a real shame they took their sound in a different direction. Their sound was already radio friendly but it just feels like they dumbed down their sound further with Suck It and See (2011) and AM (2013). But don’t let me stop you from exploring their discography and seeing which you like best.