Arctic Monkeys | DNO136 | Released: 04/23/07

Image: Favourite Worst Nightmare

As Arctic Monkeys? sophomore album comes hurtling out the gate with ?Brianstorm,? it?s hard not to notice the scrappier but expansive new sound. While it?s unmistakably Arctic Monkeys, everything?s a little more muscular and aggressive. Each song is embedded with these revelatory moments, as if some sort of critical mass is achieved through skillful songcraft and sharp arrangements until an explosive release of energy or emotion is inevitable. Alex Turner?s lyrical voice has gained a steely directness that lies in contrast to the observational storytelling of the debut. It also shows how far the band have come in their very short professional lives... one can hear the great detail that has been put into the arrangement and structure of the song, yet if feels completely effortless at the same time. Somehow, despite what could have been crushing expectations, Arctic Monkeys have made a sophomore album that does something that that sophomore albums so rarely accomplish: they?ve knocked those very suppositions off balance and, in doing so, exceeded them.