Put A Record On: Arctic Monkeys Shirk The Spotlight
September 14th, 2009 | London
The pressure of being Britain's so-called best band can't be easy, so it's only natural that Arctic Monkeys' third album, Humbug, is a reaction to the popularity and hype of the preceding albums and four years in the limelight. Humbug is a recognizably brilliant record, but it's just not as accessible and straight forward as the preceding two—nor should it have to be.
Fresh from his Last Shadow Puppets side project, singer Alex Turner has perfectly honed his lyrical talent. The album puts a sonic microscope on his witty musings and advanced word play. The bandmates all seem to have adopted a more rugged look to suit this new attitude, with all but drummer Matt Helder sporting the archetypal long-haired rock star look.
This shift may be due in part to the presence of Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme who adds macho credentials and produced half the album. The combo works surprisingly well, even though Arctic Monkeys are quintessentially British and Homme is the American Dream personified. Single "Crying Lightning" has an excellent QOTSA bass intro, but supplies the only straight up chart-topping material on Humbug. The James Ford-produced "Cornerstone" and "Pretty Visitors"—which includes the hilarious line "What came first? The chicken or the dick head?"—are also two of the better songs. Maybe that line sums up the state of mind and musical development of Arctic Monkeys—they're on top and they know it, so now they're just having a bit of fun.
Humbug is out now. For more information, see www.myspace.com/arcticmonkeys.