Newest Arctic expedition

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

The band's sophomore record, Favourite Worst Nightmare, picks up where the lads left off with 2006's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.,Google "hype and Arctic Monkeys" and you'll get 547,000 hits. It's no accident, as Arctic Monkeys is one of the most touted bands to ever grace the alt-rock music scene.

The band's sophomore record, Favourite Worst Nightmare, picks up where the lads left off with 2006's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.

But can the group survive and go beyond the hype?

The first track and the band's lead single, "Brianstorm," has a frantic double-bass drum with singer Alex Turner's roughly accented vocals taking a swipe at another bloke. The track itself is a stale racket that comes across as an unconvincing lead single.

The next three tracks, "Teddy Picker," "D Is For Dangerous" and "Balaclava," follow in the same vein with loud guitars and relentless bass. Unfortunately, these songs also fall short, as Arctic Monkeys is at its best when the music slows down and Turner's sharp observational lyrics about being a normal lad can be heard.

Even if he is being hailed as the "Coolest Man on the Planet" by United Kingdom music magazine NME, Turner is still able to tap into his former self and give listeners an uncompromised view of life.

Favourite Worst Nightmare picks up new life with the dance-inflected song and album centerpiece, "Fluorescent Adolescent."

With its bouncing bass line and sing-along chorus, it more than makes up for the album's first four tracks. With lyrics about "little books of sex tips" and being a rascal, the subject matter probably got in the way of Arctic Monkeys making this the lead single.

A contender for the best song to ever ripoff Barbara Lewis's 1965 hit "Baby I'm Yours," the track "Only Ones Who Know" is a touching story of a couple on their first date, with Turner speculating on what the future holds for them.

The line "I hope you're holding hands by New Year's Eve," is a romantic awakening in a group that once sang about girls looking good on dance floors.

The album loses none of its steam by slowing things down. Arctic Monkeys reaches the closer "505," the opening organ of which is taken from composer Ennio Morricone's score for the film The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The catchy rhythm builds and builds before erupting into a musical frenzy that doesn't hurt the general tone of the song, but adds in the end.

Before Favourite Worst Nightmare was released, Arctic Monkeys put out a one-off single called "Leave Before the Lights Come On." It showed a lot of promise and one has to wonder exactly what happened.

While the group's new record does have a more stylized production, the general tone of the album is by no means a giant leap forward for the Monkeys.

Over-hyped or not, Arctic Monkeys was never going to be the next U2 or Radiohead. If the band is lucky there's a possibility it'll someday open for those groups, but the music isn't stadium-rock material.

Maybe that's the way Arctic Monkeys want it to be.

After all, they're just a bunch of lads.