Music review: Arctic Monkeys, Humbug

Posted: September 8, 2009 in Album Reviews

arcticmonkeys
Young British rockers The Arctic Monkeys recently released their third album, Humbug. The band, huge in their native United Kingdom, haven’t yet achieved stateside success. But that seems more due to the lack of taste in music over here (I’m looking at you, Daughtry, Nickelback and Black Eyed Peas) than anything else.
The Arctic Monkeys are exciting, with lead vocalist/lyricist Alex Turner’s biting sarcastic wit and energetic singing complimenting the garage-band sound of guitarists Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley. Their first release, 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not bursted with energy, and its rough, gritty sound helped make it a fantastic debut. The follow-up, 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare was a more polished effort, full of excellent songcraft but lacking much of the immediacy and vitality of the debut.
For their latest effort, the Monkeys recruited Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme to do the producing duties, and his presence is felt all over Humbug. The Arctic Monkeys’ sound is denser and darker than ever before, and the guitar work often sounds more psychedelic (Homme’s influence is everywhere, as he plays guitar and sings backup on several of the tracks). The last three tracks “Dance Little Liar”, “Pretty Visitors” and “The Jeweler’s Hands” are unlike nothing the band has recorded, with an almost Halloween-esque organ augmenting “Visitors.” There’s still some good straightforward rock like lead single “Crying Lightning” and “Dangerous Animals” but even those have more layers and surprises than before. These twentysomethings keep getting better, pushing the envelope with each release. Sod rating: ****

Other Arctic Monkey releases:
Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006) ****
Favorite Worst Nightmare (2007) ***

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