Arctic Monkeys were never ones for subtlety. Nearly every track on Humbug, their third major release, is bombastic, loud, and biting. Their rapid ascension to fame in 2005 does not seem to have fazed the band, and fear not, they’re just as bitter as ever.
This works outrageously well for the band, whose lead singer, Alex Turner, sneers and growls through much of Humbug. Arctic Monkeys do frenetic songs well, of course, but the best songs are the gentle, mournful songs. These are slightly incongruous with the rest of the album, but when they’re so good, who really cares?
One of the highlights is “Cornerstone,” in which the singer sees his ex everywhere on a pub crawl: “She was close/Close enough to be your ghost/But my chances turned to toast when I asked her if I could call her your name.” In “Secret Door,” Turner sings of his girlfriend, TV personality Alexa Chung: “Fools on parade/ Cavort and carry on for waiting eyes/That you’d rather be beside than in front of/But she’s never been the kind to be hollowed by the stares.” It’s a loving testament to his feelings for her.
Humbug is bright and utterly danceable. It may not be as monumental as Whatever You Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, but it’s certainly worth the time.
Rating: 3/4 stars
Release Date: Aug. 25, 2009
Producer: Queens Of The Stone Age’s Joshe Homme and Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford