The most overhyped British band since oasis emerged in ’94, Sheffield sensations the arctic monkeys return with their much-anticipated sophomore release Favourite Worst Nightmare, and the goods are loud. The album kicks off with the frenetic first single “Brianstorm,” a cryptic ode to an eccentric businessman the band met on their travels. Featuring a rapid-fire dual guitar attack from frontman alex Turner and lead player Jamie Cook, it sounds near heavy metal before settling into the more familiar danceable, midtempo rhythm.
Most of the album follows suit, in fact, sounding like a musically heavier and more lyrically oblique version of their U.K. sales record-breaking first album, last year’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. While certainly not as infectious as their debut’s blend of twitchy guitars, jangly funk breakdowns and tales of urban oddities, Nightmare boasts flashes of a new lyrical coyness.
This works especially well in “Teddy Picker,” where Turner comments on their rapid ascension with a lack of pretentiousness to match his accessible stage persona. Seemingly eager to actually earn their place in the spotlight, he fears divulging “the punch line before they have told the joke” and mentions not making “the Top 100 list,” a playful self-deprecating jab at their debut’s notoriously frivolous accolade by U.K. publication NME.
Sure, Nightmare resembles the clichéd, in-your-face element of second albums, but the arctic monkeys survive the slump by not pushing too far and keeping tunes catchy enough to placate their fans. and having already accomplished much at such a young age, the rest of the Monkeys’ twenties could bear even better fruit.