"Humbug" by Arctic Monkeys (2009)
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They're getting colder, colder, a little bit warmer.
Only two albums in, Arctic Monkeys have created such a massive buzz across the pond over in the U.K. Many publications have gone as ridiculously far as saying that Alex Turner and the boys are the second coming of The Beatles. That's a load of poppycock, but the Monkeys and Turner in particular do have enough intriguing aspects to keep them one step ahead of being entirely predictable (unlike, say, Oasis). Take for instance Turner's side project last year The Last Shadow Puppets, an orchestral Indie-Pop album that took everyone by surprise and showed that maybe Turner wasn't such a one trick Monkey after all. That, mixed with the fact that three-fourths of their new album Humbug was produced by Queens of the Stone Age mastermind Josh Homme makes it so the Monkeys are at least trying new directions and taking calculated risks.
Humbug was almost entirely created in the confines of the desert with Homme and his cronies, so it isn't surprising that the new Arctic Monkeys album feels boozy and stonerific. The guitar bits aren't as spazzy as the Monkeys other work and Alex Turner's vocals for the most part even seem like he's trying to channel what Homme wants out of him. Some of it works, like the first single "Crying Lightning," but a lot of it just feels too forced, like the overtly Queens sounding "Dangerous Animals" and "Potions Approaching."
There are some really great songs here, though, that break through the stoner haze after repeated listens. The overtly romantic "Secret Door" feels like Turner is channeling a tortured soul such as Morrissey and "Fire and the Thud" starts out quiet, but explodes with some great guitar freak outs and some sexy backing female vocals lent from Alison Mosshart from The Kills and The Dead Weather. Not all of Humbug works, but as I said before, at least Turner and company are branching out and stretching their musical muscles to incorporate some different sounds and feels. As someone who appreciates bands that take chances, Humbug gets a moderate thumbs up from me and I definitely can't wait to see what these lads come up with next.
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