3. New (albeit very minor) instruments added to the mix?
4. Sounds that could be considered "Messing With the Formula"?
5. Fails To Live Up To The Debut's Quality?
What? You thought the Arctic Monkeys were going to go away that easily?
In the year since their startling 2006 debut, the Arctic Monkeys broke records, stormed clubs and award shows alike, lost a bassist, and received an unbelievable amount of unnecessary backlash (3.39? Shame on you, RYM!). They revolutionized the hype machine while simultaneously selling a metric ton of NME magazines and now they're back for another go around, and this time, they're feeling sinister.
Standing as a perfect counterpart to Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not's nightlife shenanigans, Favourite Worst Nightmare is about what happens in those early mornings after the doors close and the delirious drunks are let lose on the city streets. This follow-up is far more muscular than the debut (yet only managing to be about three minutes shorter) and it shows off just what they learned during their sudden rise to fame.
"Brianstorm", the first track and Single, is quite simply the most incendiary track I've ever heard and a shining example of why the Arctic Monkeys were ever popular to begin with. It's furious rhythm takes a page out of Hot Snakes' book and puts it through a shredder at 1,000 miles per hour. It sets everything on Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not on fire, basically annihilating any reason to go back to the tired sounds of that record. It works as a Single because it's ludicrously addictive, but more importantly, it works as an opener because it puts the definitive period on Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not's chapter in Arctic Monkey's history (Or rather, it just burns the whole damn book), making way for what's ahead.
Which is, thankfully, more relaxed than WPSIA,TWIN's frenetic party atmosphere. They haven't lost all touch with what made them popular though. This is simply a matter of turning down the distortion from time to time, as well as letting Alex Turner's seductive lyrics flourish. They've got a little bit more melody about them now and the cleaner sound puts Turner up front more than ever, which is a great thing because this guy can handle the spotlight. "Only Ones Who Know" highlights this change best, dropping out the drums completely and making the guitars purely atmospheric, leaving it up to Turner to make the track worthwhile, and he pulls through with ease. As for the album as a whole, it's reasonable to say that this is the kind of music the characters of WPSIA,TWIN would listen to if they wanted to have a thought to themselves. It's certainly catchy, but it's surprisingly more professional, like walking in on a boxing match when you expected a bar room brawl.
Ultimately, this is a step forward and to the side. The band expands and refines a few mistakes, yet manages to drop some filler amongst so many hits. A total perfection of their sound can't be expected after working on these songs for less than a year, but a total failure most definitely would be, and for that, the Arctic Monkeys exceed expectations once again. Fans will see this as a fantastic follow up, critics will puke up their Frappacinos all over their Ipods, and Domino Records will get so much cash they'll have to open up their own bank. The important thing though, is that this band fulfilled the promises that most expected from their debut, and they did it on a tight schedule with heavy eyes weighing down on them. After the dust has settled in Favourite Worst Nightmare's wake, let's hope these lads from Sheffield take a year off, rejuvenate their senses, and knock us so far unconscious with their next release, nobody will even be able to raise a finger in question of this band's greatness.