Record Label: Warner Brothers
Arctic Monkeys’ sophomore album comes hurtling out of the gate with “Brianstorm,” which is also the first single. Immediately it is hard not to notice the scrappier but expansive new sound. While it is unmistakably Arctic Monkeys, everything’s a little more muscular and aggressive as the rhythm section of Matt Helders and Nick O’ Malley have locked horns with one another on the first new material since O’ Malley joined on full-time. It has been a long while since someone has been deserving of a “lead drums” credit, but Mr. Helders has indeed earned it here.
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. One need look no further than the stunning “Do Me A Favour” for these attributes on clear display. And yes, it would be understandable if you were to think you’re picking up a bit of Smiths influence on that track with some fine self-deprecation worthy of Mr. S.P. Morrissey, but hey, that rhythm is just as much “Stranded In The Jungle” as it is “How Soon Is Now?” Go ask Bo Diddley.
If the debut was full of tales of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, the sophomore album is one that realizes that there’s Monday and beyond, too. “Flourescent Adolescent,” certain to be a future single with its surefooted effervescence and pop sensibilities, is a story about the party girl growing up and out of the good times, perhaps against her will even. 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.
Arctic Monkeys made a sophomore album that does something that sophomore albums so rarely accomplish: they’ve knocked those very suppositions off balance, and in doing so, exceeded them. Produced by James Ford and Mike Crossey and mixed by Alan Moulder.