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Arctic Monkeys - Humbug Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8
Production 9.25
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.84
Musicianship 8.88
Lyrics 8.69
Production 8.91
Creativity 8.72
Lasting Value 8.56
Reviewer Tilt 8.53
Average: 87%
Inside AP.net

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (10/02/09)
Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
Record Label: Domino
Release Date: August 19, 2009

When the buzz surrounding the Arctic Monkey's single "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" launched them into the consciousness of music fans worldwide, it had all the makings of a flash-in-the pan hit. Brash and catchy but not exactly teeming with substance, it made for a fitting precursor to the band's debut offering Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, an album that had a few demure moments, but mostly embodied the cocky swagger of its lead single. When faced with the task of following up their debut, the band might have been expected to mellow out a bit to avoid the "one-dimensional" tag, but their sophomore attempt Favourite Worst Nightmare turned out to be an even more blatantly uptempo affair, and while it failed to achieve the level of commercial success of their debut, it was widely acclaimed.

With their third release, Humbug, comes the change of pace, as the Sheffield boys seem to have applied the brakes quite liberally, though it comes off less as a measure of caution and more as a brazen display of artistic growth. Even a more uptempo number like "Potion Approaching" isn't a simple assault of scratchy garage-rock guitars, choosing instead to go in a more post-punk direction. Also, as evidenced at the outset with the shadowy, ominous sound of opener "My Propeller," there's a hazy psychedelic vibe pervading most of the songs, a stylistic venture foreshadowed somewhat by lead vocalist Alex Turner's work in his side-project The Last Shadow Puppets. The biggest surprise here is probably "Cornerstone," a true highlight on which Turner unfurls a lilting Morrissey-esque croon and even employs Moz's disarming sentiment ("I asked her if I could call her your name").

James Ford, who helmed Favorite Worst Nightmare as well as The Last Shadow Puppets' The Age of the Understatement returns to the producer's chair, and is joined by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. Listening to the final product, one can envision each of the collaborators' contributions in the studio, with Ford carrying the mystery-shrouded aesthetic of Understatement and Homme adding the sleazy, edgy low-end fuzz that characterizes Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. It marks a startling departure for the band, perhaps enough even to be considered a reinvention.

It's almost as though the Monkeys came to the realization that there are already enough snotty British garage-rock revivalist bands and that the shtick has grown a bit tired, as evidenced by the less favorable commercial reception of Nightmare and its failure to produce a single as successful as "Dancefloor." Their new noirish undertones shouldn't turn off longtime followers, as the single "Crying Lightning" is clear evidence that they haven't lost their knack for writing infectious melodies and there are even a few danceable moments (compare the rhythm of "Dangerous Animals" with their debut's "Fake Tales of San Francisco"). Overall, Humbug is a confident and mature record that should intrigue fans and attract some newcomers to the bandwagon.

Recommended If You LikeWhite Whale's WWI
The Takeover UK's Running With the Wasters
The Libertines' Up the Bracket
The Last Shadow Puppets' The Age of the Understatement
The Good, the Bad and the Queen's The Good, the Bad and the Queen

Tracklisting1. My Propeller (3:27)
2. Crying Lighting (3:43)
3. Dangerous Animals (3:30)
4. Secret Door (3:43)
5. Potion Approaching (3:32)
6. Fire and the Thud (3:57)
7. Cornerstone (3:17)
8. Dance Little Liar (4:43)
9. Pretty Visitors (3:40)
10. The Jeweller's Hands (5:42)
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 35
09:36 AM on 10/02/09
giddy up
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sasalukac's Avatar
Good review. I'll give this album a second go-around, because it didn't leave a lasting impression on me at first listen
09:39 AM on 10/02/09
We never met, you and I
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awakeohsleeper's Avatar
I don't like this band. And I live in Sheffield now. Not a good combination.
10:20 AM on 10/02/09
Viva Sonata
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Viva Sonata's Avatar
10:26 AM on 10/02/09
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jesse_hitz's Avatar
Good review good record
10:29 AM on 10/02/09
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No Avatar Selected
Did not get into this album at all.
10:55 AM on 10/02/09
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stereokiller's Avatar
oh. i think your review may have encouraged me to give this another chance.
11:02 AM on 10/02/09
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sowrongitsjack's Avatar
their best album i think.
11:03 AM on 10/02/09
saved latin. What did you ever do?
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bladerdude360's Avatar
I wasn't crazy about this record at first either, but after giving it a few more spins and having the pleasure of seeing them live last weekend in Milwaukee, it's really started to grow on me. Definitely different, but in now way bad. Good review.
11:19 AM on 10/02/09
Eight miles high and falling fast
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Memphis's Avatar
I like Favourite Worst Nightmare way better than WPSIATWIMN, this album was quite a shock for the first listen and i don't seem to get much into this album, although i love some of the songs, but I can say that every time I give it a listen, it slowly grows on me...

My favourite songs are Crying Lightning and Dance Little Liar
11:40 AM on 10/02/09
Registered User
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con40dmitri's Avatar
Love the band, however, it's still taking me time to get used to the new stuff.
11:54 AM on 10/02/09
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HometownHero's Avatar
Fantastic album is fantastic
12:17 PM on 10/02/09
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
This is a great record and may even be better than the first two.
01:11 PM on 10/02/09
Registered User
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muggledude's Avatar
I still think their first album is there best. It had an energy to it that I liked. This one isn't bad, just wasn't what I was hoping for from them.
01:22 PM on 10/02/09
There's just this thing about you..
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Brandao's Avatar
it took some time...but this album grew on me...

now i think this is one of 09's most interesting records (wouldn't say one of the best).

Some great tunes in Humbug....glad to see they went with a totally different direction with this album, i don't know if i could endure one more record of the same sound (even though i love both of their previous works)
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