Saturday, 29 August 2009

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

So, on the back of two mighty successful albums, a side project, new bar and bass player, Arctic Monkeys have made it to album number three. There has been much talk about the Sheffield quartet’s third long player, whether they can once again crack their crooked tunes to the top of the musical tree, where they’ll be headed and if they can live up to their own much lauded super status.

Second album, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, was released almost exactly a year after debut ‘Whatever people Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ and saw the band shift ever so slightly from their Sheffield roots to take a more knowing approach despite displaying their spiky punk funk in the same manner.

Alex Turner has had a bit of fun with his mate Miles Kane and the two produced Last Shadow Puppets while Matt Helders was one of the three main spear heads in the creation of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival amongst other projects and collaborations such as Mongrel with Drew McConnell from Babyshambles and Rev. John McClure.

Once the band regrouped they made way to the Mojave Desert and Los Angeles to record ‘Humbug’ which has been largely produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. It seems leaving their place of origin has inspired the band to move far away from their original inner city routes roots of riotous street poetry to create something that seems all the more expressive and perceptive when compared with the stuff that got them here.

From the haunting melodies of ‘My Propeller’ and ‘Secret Door’ to the incandescent chorus and spider infested guitar amp creep of preceding single ‘Crying Lightning’ (“and I love that little game you had called, Crying Lightning”) the band show how much they’ve progressed. The backing vocal hooks wrap you round their little fingers and Turner’s raconteur approach is more thoughtful and romantic than before, his voice has dropped and his Yorkshire twang lies beneath a bubbling surface to create a darker impact on his story telling.

Standout moments include ‘Cornerstone’, a romantic tale in which Turner croons “I thought I saw you in The Rusty Hook, huddled up in a wicker chair. I wandered over for a closer look and kissed whoever was sitting there” before penultimate tune ‘Pretty Visitors’ kicks up a stink as they return to their fast paced aggressive attack: “What came first the chicken or the dick head?!” to show they’ve still got the bite that brought Glastonbury to its knees.

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