Arctic Monkeys - 'Humbug' [Music Review]

I never understood why the Arctic Monkeys weren't "accepted" by mainstream America. Did they seem too British for American tastes? Was the hype around their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not too great and expectations too high? Whatever the reasons may have been before, it's time for the States to stop ignoring one of the best rock bands born in the 2000's.

The reason? Humbug.

Not only is this the Arctic Monkeys' most adventurous album thus far, it has quickly become one of my favorites this year. Humbug departs from the sound the England-based rock band has stuck to on their previous two full length efforts as well as retains Alex Turner's signature singing style. The product is something that is both familiar as well as refreshing.

So what is this new musical style the famous Arctic Monkeys make use of on their third album? Well thanks in no small part to Queens of The Stone Age founder Josh Homme, who serves as the record's producer, the group has distorted the guitars beyond belief and has upped the intensity of the drums. And as a result Humbug sounds heavier and grungier than the band ever has before, including many elements of psychedelic rock thrown in to keep things fresh.

This change is immediately heard on lead single "Crying Lightning", which is certainly one of the most upbeat songs on the album. Alex Turner's voice reaches new heights as Matt Helders provides a relentless drum beat in the background only made even more furious by the short-but-oh-so-sweet psychedelic solo. Similar songs include the opener "My Propeller" and "Dangerous Animals".

But of course Humbug has its calmer, slower moments with songs like "Cornerstone" which is bound to be an indie scene hit due to the lively lyrics and light sound. "Fire and the Thud" is one of the tracks more heavily influenced by 70s era rock and plays through like a song from Black Sabbath. It is one of the more unique songs and leads into an explosive solo near the end, but sadly that intense finale is the only memorable piece of the somewhat dull puzzle. However things quickly patch themselves up due to the following track "Dance Little Liar" which is what "Fire and the Thud" should have been.

"Potion Approaching" is also another slight misstep on the album's part. The song shares a few too many characteristics with a Queens of The Stone Age song and therefore doesn't quite match up with the rest of Humbug.

But the accomplishments that "Secret Door", "Pretty Visitors" and closing track "The Jeweller's Hands" are remedy the albums mistakes. "Secret Door" is easily recommendable to any indie or rock fan and even sounds like the sequel to "Flourescent Adolescent" which is one of the Arctic Monkeys' greatest songs. "Pretty Visitors" and "The Jeweller's Hands" end Humbug on a darker note and are both exciting deviations from the band's traditional formula. While the former is confident in its grim tone, the latter is a truly haunting song that sticks with you for a while after listening to the album.

While the Arctic Monkeys tend to channel a style not their own on Humbug, their third album is indeed the charm and shows that the band can embrace innovation and change. Humbug is a sinister, heavy, and addictive album that exemplifies one simple truth: the Arctic Monkeys are sticking around for a long time.


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