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Music Review: Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

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Here's how it used to work: many minutes (if not hours) were spent flipping through the record bins, looking for just the right disc. With the purchase in hand, it was out the door and back home to see if the mental crapshoot payed off. The shrinkwrap hits the floor and the needle hits the groove. Is it yet another rock epiphany or a mere "Eh….?" If the answer is the former, then the rest of the world drops away and you're lost down in that groove. Nothing else matters. More than that, the world is actually transformed, because now it includes this piece of music that feels like your new best friend.

That's exactly how the Arctic Monkeys made me feel this past week. Oh sure, a record store wasn't involved this time around. Instead, there was a DHL truck with my dog barking madly at the delivery guy. There was also no drive home to let the anticipation grow. Still, Favorite Worst Nightmare, launched itself out of my speakers and made me remember that thrill of discovery.

Cynics will be suspicious of this supposed "next big thing" (that crown was conferred on the Arctic Monkeys with the release of last year's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not), especially when the artist is coming from the UK. This isn't a "rule" or anything, it's just that there are many examples of bands being huge in Britain who, for whatever reason, don't seem to resonate with the American ear.

Yes, we often raise an eyebrow at a supposed rising phenom (self-appointed or not), but here the praise is completely on the mark: the Arctic Monkeys rock, hard.

On first listen, it struck me that what I like about this band is that they deal successfully in so many subgenres of pop and rock: on any one tune you're apt to run into equal measures of Britpop, punk, reggae, and rock. Throw in elements of the more edgy and angular (think early XTC, Gang Of Four, and maybe even a little Television) and you've got a recipe for some serious fun. This heterogeneous approach reminds me of what I loved about bands like The Clash, who were as comfortable rocking out as they were laying down the deep skank. For some bands, that kind of thing can lead to awkward moments. Not here. These guys sounds as confident during the ballad "Only Ones Who Know" as it does blasting through the opening "Brianstorm."

I love the sound of a band who just plugs in and lets its go. Slashing rhythm guitar, winding melodies, driving basslines, and lyrics spat out at breakneck speed. What's not to love? I mean, who doesn't love gaining a new best friend?

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About Mark Saleski

  • That experience and anticipation you speak of is about as good a description as there is. That is the life of a Fanboy. DHL left my copy on the apartment stoop, fortunately it was there when I got home. No barking.

    It is an intensely fun record, no question about it.

  • One of their EPs featured the band covering Baby You’re Mine, and doing so confidently, seemingly effortlessly. Yeah, the major in punk, but not because that’s the only thing they can do.

    Love them, love the album, love this review. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to hear about Brian in “Brianstorm” again… 🙂