Arctic Monkeys exploded on the scene with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the fastest-selling debut album in UK chart history, back in 2006. Their follow-up Favourite Worst Nightmare did not do so well commercially but fans generally preferred it to their debut due its harder sound. Now comes the all-important 3rd – the album where you show everyone that you’ve grown up. Tricky part is: how do you keep from isolating old fans? Well, in the case of the Arctic Monkeys, just get 2 respected and iconic producers/musicians to turn up the dial. Humbug was produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford (who also plays drums for The Last Shadow Puppets). Apart from having these 2 giants on the mixing boards, the band also travelled to the desert of California to record with Homme and to NY City for Ford’s expertise. The result of this cross-country recording spree is a psychedelic-laced “experimental” album.
Although the guitars are still amp up, the melodies tend to be more skillfully intertwined. The album’s opener ‘My Propeller’ doesn’t stand alone but serves as a pre-empt to the next track and the album’s 1st single ‘Crying Lighting’. There are several moments in Humbug where the past is revisited such as on ‘Pretty Visitors’ which is classic Arctic Monkeys. Some vocal guest spots with Alison Mosshart and Hommes also adds to the texture. But it’s the Beatles-esque number ‘Cornerstone’ that touches the heart and will probably be the album’s unspoken hit.
Listen to: ‘Cornerstone’
Lyrical highpoint: “What came first? / The chicken or the d*ckhead?”
If you like this you’ll dig: The pervious Arctic Monkeys albums and Jarvis Cocker’s Further Complications.
Rating: 7 and Â½ frozen bananas