Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

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The Arctic Monkeys surely showed enormous potential on Whatever People Say I Am, but their youthful vigor often camouflaged their debt to other bands. Here, they're absorbing their influences, turning their liberal borrowings from the Libertines, the Strokes, and the Jam into something that's their own distinct identity. Unlike any of those three bands, however, the Arctic Monkeys haven't stumbled on their second album; they haven't choked on hubris, they haven't overthought their sophomore salvo, nor have they cranked it out too quickly. That constant year of work resulted in startling growth as the band is testing the limits of what they can do and where they can go. Favourite Worst Nightmare hardly abandons the pleasures of their debut but instead frantically expands upon them. They still have a kinetic nervous energy, but this isn't a quartet that bashes out simply three-chord rock & roll. The Monkeys may start with an infectious riff, but then they'll violently burst into jagged yet tightly controlled blasts of post-punk squalls, or they'll dress a verse with circular harmonies as they do at the end of "Fluorescent Adolescent." Their signature is precision, evident in their concise songs, deftly executed instrumental interplay, and the details within Turner's wry wordplay, which is clever but never condescending.

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