Review: Arctic Monkeys, Humbug

WEDNESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2009

Aahh Humbug

Why people insist on dumbing down the noise Arctic Monkeys make amazes me. No really, it does. Three albums in and as they produce musically their finest record, people still sigh and ask if you’ve got “When the Sun Goes Down” on your iPod. Not that thats a poor record, not by any standard, but the point is not enough people are willing to give new stuff a go.

There are probably two types of Arctic Monkeys fans, and ‘Type 1’ are probably not fans anymore. They took one look at their haircut and wondered why they still aren’t writing “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor Part Two”. ‘Type 2’, more than likely, love Humbug. Its a progressive record, taking their iconic sounds and running away with them to a desert in the US of A.
And why bloody not? If Oasis have taught us anything, its that an artist should move on, keep pushing boundries – they didn’t incidentally. But those Monkeys did. By God they did. The lyrics are still there and so are the guitar lines (although greedily Turner now insists on playing most of them during live shows) but what i personally am most encouraged to hear, is the rythms. Its true, none of us could play the drum beat to Teddy Picker on our thighs. Don’t deny it, you’ve tried. Matt Helders has really upped his game with unpredictable snares here and there and the odd cymbal just to keep you on your toes.
And thats the key thing with this album, its different, its edgy, but please, no, its not “heavy” or “dark” as all manner of reviewers are labelling it. You want “heavy” or “dark”? Go slit your wrists to the latest I-cant-even-think-of-a-heavy-or-dark-shitty-artist-because-i-dont-listen-to-shit single.
 
My Propellor contains raw energy which is slowly unleashed as the album begins to give away its secrets. It’s almost as if you shouldn’t deserve to just go and buy this album, you should have to work it out, decipher it note by note and piece together this treasure that Turner and co have buried.
Crying Lightning, although not the best song on the album, is a good ole bash which will please the fans who would have just bought the single, not even considering the concept of albums. No, i am wrong, they would have downloaded it illegally, by accident, looking for the latest Dizzee Rascal remix of “Mardy Bum”. And before you ask, no, there isn’t a Dizzee Rascal Remix of “Mardy Bum”. As far as I’m aware. And no, I’m not going to look either.
Dangerous Animals provides another hook of a guitar line and i’d place a small bet that it could be a possible single, if i was a betting man, and a legal one at that.
Cornerstone provides the most “pop” sounding song on the record, but it is done with such well roundedness it seems as if the ‘edginess’ that has become associated with this album now has been put on at the end, to give it a final umphh.
And i couldn’t let this moment pass without mentioning a lyric that teenagers all over the world are loving shouting: “What came first, the chicken or the dickhead?” Thus, just proving those little monkeys still have their edge and can still deliver punchy lines.
But, my favourite on the album has to be the beautiful “Dance Little Liar”. Yes, those tree-dwelling mammals have delivered it again. What is evident here is that Turner is simply singing more. Gone are the days of shouting “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor!” – oh dear, remember ‘Type 1’ Arctic Monkeys fans i mentioned earlier? Some of them are crying now.
But don’t let that bother you, let the bastards cry because this is a stomping record and one which should be listened to many many times before making comment on.
 
Roll on record number four, but have they thought where to produce the next one? The jungle or the sea maybe? Or, how about this for an idea, the arctic? I’m laughing at the irony now. Inside. Deep inside.
 
Rating: 9/10
 
Top 3 Songs:
1. Dance Little Liar
2. Cornerstone
3. My Propellor
 
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