Laced with a more anxious vibe even as it broadens its musical palate, Favourite Worst Nightmare is an interesting follow-up to the smash debut from Arctic Monkeys. While the music isn’t as readily accessible from a “single” format the band continues their sense of adventure, getting seriously dense at times, although a few songs really open back up to the sense of fun from the debut.
“Brainstorm” is another barnburner of an opening track. When the band are firing on all cylinders like there’s few bands that can touch them. The next few songs give back a little bit of space, allowing the instruments to breathe a little more, but that sense of playful fun is largely absent, replaced with a more acidic lyrical attack from Turner, and riffs that are agitated and bitter. It makes for an interesting album, as they could have followed up with something more in line with Whatever People Say I Am… but I dig how they went for something different. That being the case, when the band slows down enough to get a just a bit playful, as they do in the middle break of “Balaclava” and on the retro fun of “Fluorescent Adolescent” the winks and nods of the debut come back and it’s a blast.
The second half of Favourite Worst Nightmare show a broader musical scope that anything the band had done yet, and while it doesn’t make for a consistent espresso shot of music I think I appreciate the album all the more for it. I spent more than a few nights sitting and getting absorbed in the way the guitars would ring in the channels, and how the air around the drums would roll around in my brain. Tracks like “This House Is A Circus” and closer “505” help to add a note of mystery to band and point to a larger canvas available to try. All in all this might be my favorite Arctic Monkeys just for that reach and promise for bigger not yet realized.