Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Arctic Monkeys -- Favourite Worst Nightmare

You Had Me At “That Man Just Yawned”

For many such as myself, much of 2006 was spent avoiding the non-stop media and blog buzz surrounding the UK's Arctic Monkeys debut, Whatever People How about using that bat to get an effing hit?Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. I quickly and unfairly dismissed the Sheffield band as merely a British Strokes carbon copy (Libertines?) and never gave them a chance at even cracking the iPod (in my mind). That was until I caught a re-run of their SNL performance last summer. They played their hits "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" and "Certain Romance, A". The latter featured singer Alex Turner pointing at an audience member while saying "that man just yawned!" seamlessly before launching into the song's finale. I bought the album the very next day and it has not left my rotation since (nor has the recording of the line left my saved voicemail messages).

Whereas Whatever People Say... covered the seedy pub and club scenes, telling tales through Yes have somesocial observations made along way, their encore Favourite Worst Nightmare moves on to love and relationships, while still maintaining their common man appeal and witty commentary on topics such as the music scene, reality tv, and not-very-married married women. Unlike many of the recent indie buzz bands (Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, come to mind), the Arctic Monkeys don't play it safe (a la The Strokes with Room On Fire). Just 15 months after their debut dropped, Turner and co kept the pedal to the metal and somehow manage to follow-up a triple platinum debut with, what could be considered one of the better UK sophomore albums in recent memory.

Much like an early Oasis with the working-class background and work ethic, the band has kept improving and that is extremely obvious at first listen. While the strength of their debut was theirI'll 'it yous in da face wit dees I will chaotic energy and Turner’s words, this time everyone in the band is vastly improved to the level of Turner. Drummer Matt Helders was no slouch before, but reportedly took up boxing to be able to appropriately pull-off the new material in a live setting. He impressively attacks the drum kit throughout (most notably on opening track "Brianstorm"), quickly putting himself in the same league as Muse’s Dominic Howard and Editors’ Ed Lay. New Bassist Nick O’Malley took over for the departed Andy Nicholson, a move which can surprisingly be considered a major upgrade in hindsight. Bass lines are quick, deep, bouncy and danceable throughout. The band is much tighter collectively, and are now really to start combining strong melodies and harmony with their brand of rock, taking the listener along for a fun night as they figure it out.

‘Teddy Picker" sees Turner throw in another Duran Duran homage with “I don't want your prayer. Save it for the morning after” (from "Save A Prayer"---More like Simon Le Bonerthe first being “Your name isn't Rio, but I don't care for sand” from "I Bet You Look Good…"). Variety is a spice of life on this album and the Arctic's show that they’re no one trick pony. They bounce back and forth effortlessly from prog rock songs ("Brianstorm", "Balaclava", "This House Is A Circus") that would make Rush and Muse fans giddy, to the expected traditional brash chaotic rockers ("D Is For Dangerous", "If You Were There Beware", "The Bad Thing", "Teddy Picker") that were worn on their debut, and surprisingly some poised slower songs ("505", "Only Ones Who Knows"). There’s even a dancey reggae tinted song, "Fluorescent Adolescent", which is arguably the standout track and will be a huge summer hit with the chorus “oh the boy's a slag, the best you ever had”.

MMMMMMM Coachella PreservesIf you’ve been avoiding over-hyped buzz bands, do yourself a favor and give this album a shot. There’s more maturity and depth on this vs their debut, but without compromising their energy and charismatic charm for the sake of stateside success. After 10 listens or so I can definitely see this album emerging as a top 10 of ‘07, and it’s only April. The band kicks off its US tour on April 27 at the Coachella Festival in Indio, CA.

Standout Tracks:
"Old Yellow Bricks"
"Teddy picker"
"Fluorescent Adolescent"
"Do Me A Favor"

Rating: 4/5


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Anonymous Nummer said...

I just yawned.

8:55 AM  

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