I’ve very recently fallen in love with a few new bands, and the Arctic Monkeys are one of them. I’d heard of them sparingly until the beginning of this last summer, when I spotted them on the Lollapalooza line-up on the day I was set to attend. As I exposed myself to the myriad of bands set to play that day, a few stuck out above the rest, and the Arctic Monkeys were one of the ones who really seemed to lead the pack.
So I picked up their first two major releases, “Favourite Worst Nightmare” and “Whatever You Say That I Am, That is What I Am Not,” and really started digging their entire catalog of songs. They had a punky, stripped down, in your face British style that was very recognizable and unique. Their lyrics were cheeky and fun, and their music was fresh and had a real smoothness amongst all the abrasive rhythmic punch.
As I sat down to listen to “Humbug,” their latest effort (released on August 25th), I knew what to expect. I’d seen their entire set at Lollapalooza, and knew that they’d played a great deal of songs from their new album. What I heard was fantastic, very enjoyable, and very different from their traditional approach. They seemed more mellow, a little more mature than their previous albums showed. They seemed to be growing up and branching out as musicians, and I was very pleased with what I heard at that show.
The album is much of that, a mellower, smoother sounding Arctic Monkeys. The album kicks off with “My Propeller,” a softer side to the Monkeys, and is really an apt first song because it sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second song, “Crying Lightning,” is exactly what you would expect if you’d listened to them before: a catchy tune with strong lyrics and musical crispness. “Dangerous Animals” has an almost haunting rhythm, one that is catchy but sort of demonic at the same time.
“Potion Approaching” is another classic sounding Monkeys tune, but again with something a bit more sinister lurking beneath the surface. “Fire and the Thud” and “Dance Little Liar” actually remind me of older Radiohead songs, something laid back, low key, and thoughtful. “Pretty Visitors” would’ve been right at home on “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” but there it also might have been lost among similar sounding tunes. Here it stands out as unique from the rest of the album, and it’s a very good change of pace the album is able to pull. They draw you in by having songs that sound like they would fit in on their previous two albums, and then they take a darker approach for a handful of songs, and it’s a very well-blended album.
The album ends with “The Jeweller’s Hands,” and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve heard from this band before. It’s a step forward in their evolution, and it proves that it is possible for bands to take a change in direction and apply it to their already successful formula without become hacks.
Slowing things down considerably from their brash, tongue in cheek Brit-rock style, the Arctic Monkeys have produced a fresh sounding album that sees the band heading in a new direction. The new direction is intriguing, very listenable, and overall a positive step for this young band as they forge ahead in their rocking careers.
This is a fantastic album start to finish, and the full ten songs are quality. If you’re a fan of the band, I would definitely recommend checking this out, just so you can see the direction the band seems to be headed. If you like their last two albums, I’d say their is a good chance you’ll enjoy this. It sounds like the Arctic Monkeys. A darker, more mature, more brooding Arctic Monkeys, but that’s hardly a strike against them. They’re still young, and still developing as a band. And three albums in, they’re off to a great start.
Grade: 7.75/10 (Good)