To start, I have this and I have "Born A Lion," which I bought before this album, and I gotta say, the sound hasn't really changed at all. Sure, its a little punkier than before (a bit more buzzsawing this time around), but its still Danko carving out a lot of awesome, heavy riffs while his bass player follows Danko on his bass (which is always distorted and fuzzed out, which I totally LOVE!!!) and his drummer tightly playing basic rock 'n' roll beats not unlike Phill Rudd from AC/DC (both drumers play barely ANY fills). In short it rocks. It rocks hard.
I gotta say, as awesome as "Born A Lion" is, "Sleep Is The Enemy" is, in my opinion, much better. Heres why:
First off: Its about a million times catchier than "Born A Lion." Danko apparently hit the hook goldmine when writing this album, because I can't play it even once without about three of four of the songs getting stuck in my head the whole day. Which songs? All of them! Even my least favorite song, "When Will I See You," still finds its way into my brain on occasion. But the awesome songs? Oh man, they won't leave you after you hear them! "First Date" "She's Drugs" "Don't Fall In Love" all ten times catchier than ANYTHING on "Born A Lion" and "Born A Lion" was an AWESOME album.
Secondly: Unlike "Born A Lion," some of these songs actually have a certain amount of emotional resonance. Sure, all the songs still basically adhere to his unchanging theme of love, sex, and agression, but there are a few tracks here that come from a very human perspective and can really hit the listener.
Take "Choose Me" for example. On the surface it sounds like Motorhead, but lyrically is about seeing the person you want with someone else. Conceptually its nothing radical, but they way Danko sings lines like "I'll wait for the day, but it might be to late, if the world comes crashing down, I'll be the loudest mouth in the crowd. And if that day comes, choose MEEEEEEE!!!", you really get the feeling like he's been there, like he's seen the woman of his dreams walking around with a man thats not him, and he really knows how much it hurts when you realize you can't really do anything about it. That song really hit me straight in the heart, as I'm going through exactly that situation right now. Danko nails those feelings of frustration perfectly.
Or "Invisible" where Danko screams all these crazy masochistic things he'd do to himself if it would only mean this girl would give the time of day. Its over the top, sure, but what guy hasn't had that intense frustration over somenone who just doesn't seem to notice him?
I think it helps that he's a little more vulnerable on this album too. He's not getting every woman ever on this album, the women he's looking at don't notice him, aren't available, aren't fully devoted to him, etc. He's not the towering, unbeatable colossus of testosterone that he was on "Born A Lion." On "Born A Lion" he was angry and bitter. On "Sleep Is The Enemy" he's also sad, yearning, frustrated, in general just more human.
Danko may not be saying anything new, and he isn't saying anything complicated, but there's a certain truth in the simplicity that, along with his performances, make the sentiments come across as very sincere.
Overall, in my book, a big improvement on his already winning forumla.
Not that it matters, though. In the end, people like Danko because he rocks.
Meaning that in the end, whats important isn't that its better Danko Jones, its that its MORE Danko Jones.
Because something tells me that (just like all his musial influences Motorhead, AC/DC, and the Ramones) he'll keep finding new ways to do the exact same thing, and like the bands just mentioned, give us dozens upon dozens of great rock 'n' roll songs in the process.
So pick up "Sleep Is The Enemy," because Danko Jones should be this generations AC/DC.
Seriously, he's that good.