Sound — 8
When somebody's beat The Beatles in the charts with the debut album, the expectations from the second record are as high as the anticipation before it's release. Will they do it or will they not? -- is all that bothered fans the day before Arctic Monkeys' sophomore album Favourite Worst Nightmare was out (I should admit, the same question has been haunting music critics). They did it -- the new record is a worthy follow-up to Whatever People Say I am That's What I'm Not. It doesn't grab you by the balls like the previous record did. Instead, you would need a few listens to get into. The titles became shorter, the guys are saying less words a second than they used to and are more straight in expressing themselves, avoiding any flourishing details. What you would expect from a sophomore album is most of it's songs sounding like the predecessor. Not in this case -- there are still battling drums, dirty guitars and noisy sound, but rare you find a song to compare to something from the debut album. The first single Braistorm that reminds me of Choo Choo from Whatever People Say might be the only example and leaves me wishing for more as the music has lost it's infectious melodies. Now Arctic Monkeys are less radio-friendly, trading catchy pop guitar riffs for darker and moodier chords. The album was claimed to be more American-audience oriented and according producers people in America like it more rock and less ska. Favourite Worst Nightmare is heavier with many songs sounding so tight and even scary, that if you change crashing guitar to distortion, they could well be a soundtrack to a horror movie -- like This House Is A Circus with it's haunting guitar solo. Here are even less slows moments than you would expect with a sensitive ballad Only One Who Knows being the only romantic moment of the whole CD. But it's done in the best traditions to touch you -- with whining guitars, mellow strings and Turner suddenly stating that True romance can be achieved these days.
Lyrics — 9
Thanx God that after all the changes Alex Turner didn't loose his cynicism! And he is still straight-forward with things most wouldn't dare to sing about with the lyrics vivid and unexpected as your neighbor's underwear. But now he is less generous for details that amused us on the previous record. Rarely you would find weird rhythms that stick like This house is a circus/ Berserk as f--k in This House Is A Circus or There's a circle of witches, ambitiously vicious they are in If You Were There, Beware. When it comes to vocals, Turner is less diverse now. It seems like he's found the sound that he's comfortable in (and pretty much the effect for his voice too) and he's got no wish no change or vary it. Mostly it's the volume of the singing that changes. He's yelling like a hysterical kid in 505 and soulfully sings with sorrow in Only One Who Knows.
Overall Impression — 9
Even though it's obvious the guys are now much less enthusiastic when it comes to music, this album isn't crushing anybody's expectations or failing in any way. Arctic monkeys have definitely matured, but gaining the experience, the guys have lost the joy and fun they carried in their debut. Favourite Worst Nightmare is more aggressive and even violent. There's something in the music that you would expect from the band the least -- they became serious, but not worse or less interesting.