Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys, black sabbath, Definitely Maybe, Favorite Worst Nightmare, Fluorescent Adolescent, humbug, Jamie Cook, Josh Home, Queens of the Stone Age, Releases of the Week, Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not
PREVIEW: Download Arctic Monkeys “My Propeller”
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts
Aside from being awesome musicians, Arctic Monkeys have made a name for themselves as record breakers, pioneers in Internet publicity and overall controversy badasses. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the band’s debut album, unexpectedly hit the worldwide music scene in 2006, breaking the record previously held by Oasis‘s Definitely Maybe as the fastest-selling album in British music history. Their second album Favourite Worst Nightmare was an equal success, especially with the armies of fans that kept jamming to “Fluorescent Adolescent” to no end (admit it, you know you were one of them).
This foursome could be criticized of anything from promoting smoking via their album covers to mocking fellow Brits at award shows, but one thing they can’t be charged with is making bad music. And so it continues with their much-anticipated new album Humbug. Produced by Josh Home of Queens of the Stone Age, we wouldn’t dare think that it would be anything short of spectacular — or maybe we do.
At first listen, it sounds like the same old Arctic Monkeys we have grown to love; the signature drum-roll opening, Alex Turner’s deep, sultry vocals and Jamie Cook’s addictive guitar strums. However, there is something very different about this album. The sound is no longer the upbeat Britpop that we remember. Instead, it is radically darker, and borderline-metallic, along the lines of Black Sabbath.
The band explores some gloomy content, with ghostly echoes in tracks like opener “My Propeller,” and first single “Crying Lightning.” The heavy, rough sounds generally dominate, but the problem lies in the inconsistency throughout the album. The band is trying to evolve to more mature levels, inspired by the olden day metal bands. They succeed as far as the acoustics and audio go, especially with the track “Pretty Visitor,” going as dark and gothic as adding a spooky organ to the backdrop. However, Arctic Monkeys fall short on the lyrics, yelling out things like “What came first the chicken or the dickhead?” and something else about snake pit shadows. The content is just confusing, and takes away from the interesting new resonance that the band successfully discovers.
Humbug may not be the band’s best, but it has its very valiant moments. The final track, “Jeweler’s Hands” is very harmonious and memorable. The lyrics are interesting and captivating throughout. One could describe the album as a successful exploration for the band. They have found a fresh sound. Now all that is left to do is find the right lyrics and consistency.
— Irina Dvalidze