Arctic Monkeys: ‘Humbug’ Album Review

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Album Reviews

Image

I think it’s fascinating when a band decides to evacuate the hometown and nest somewhere totally unexpected in a hope the result of such experimentations with location shall provide the greatest of rock’n’roll anthems. Specifically for the Arctic Monkeys, after two hugely successful albums, including an EP also, the location is LA, the Mohave Desert, along with a trail of tunes produced in New York. So, although the scenery is constructed differently to their beloved Sheffield UK, the songs on Humbug, all mysterious pinches of seductive psychoactive thrill, and nonsensical, poetic romances, the result is rather amazing.

Not deviating too much from Arctic Monkey’s capabilities to produce loud, abrasive, heavy riffs that immediately jump out of the speaker systems, ‘’My Propeller’’ and equally, ‘’Crying Lightning’’, signify a light hint of the more experimental and adventurous side to, ‘’Humbug’’. The guitar parts are complicated, itchy and drenched in a tidal wave of hazy echo that assumes they recorded THIS album whilst tripping on something. Mature in sound but equally daft and leaves the listener in a state of wonderment to just how Alex Turner manages to wrap his tongue around such, now trademark, lyrical twists. Beneath the fuzzy, dazzling shapes that create the new styles and themes expanded on as the album, continues to morph into an entire army of genres and gestures that both sedate and satisfy the listener beautifully.

The common British themes of: being in a taxi overcharging the fair and keeping the meter running has gone; no more talking of prostitutes selling their bodies to the suburban stalkers of wild English nightlife, and furthermore, being drunk with your mates come being crowned 18 years old unaware of what to do and who you are with, has also been eradicated from the subject matters that once dominated The Monkey’s messages of speaking to kids as spokespersons of their post-punk revivalist generation.

 ‘’Dangerous Animals’’ leaves a smooth handprint on the heart of the listener, ‘’pinned down to the dark’’ that only occasionally reveals glimpses of sharp light in a whirl of intense submarine sonar radar beeps. Soon to follow, taking a more paced approach, is, ‘’Secret Door’’, a dancehall anthem with a deeply heartfelt chorus, in a contrast to the playful positions of guitar spikes and tribal drumbeats and demonic melodies speeding up and slowing down in a quick flicker of magic. Next, ‘’Potion Approaching’’ truly exposes the new territory they have stumbled across in the United States, swinging into a jungle of primordial chaos and cartoonish canvases.

The resolution of the song full of hilarious imagery of, ‘’biting the time zone, embellishing the banks of our bloodstreams, shielding our eyes from the potion approaching.’’ Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age has his juggernaut hands firmly around the neck of this particular gem, ending with a plodding carnival of mesmerising vocal performances that pierce a hook through the lobe of the one’s ear, drags down slightly to take a look inside the mind it toys with to trance successfully. ‘’Fire and the Thud’’, full of tremolo ridden guitars that gently screech in the background, teetering features of acid washed inflections and narcotic fuelled musicality seesawing back and forth on the wave’s a tide stirred by the full-moon overlooking above. As, ‘’Cornerstone’’ soon swoons into place in a gentle cradling of the heart and soul, tame and reserved in a major key of A that accesses the secretive desires two people have sharing the distance between them. A slight dip of subverted impressions with, ‘’Dance Little Liar’’, that although in places does shine, gets rather boring and forced to the point a crack appears in its delicate composition.

Yet, soon returning with fire and ferocity in a hallucinatory manner is, ‘’Pretty Visitors’’, easily one of the best songs on the album, motivated by gibberish speech and a whirlpool of psychotic landscapes, dreamy resonances emerge through the headsets of the heart as cluttered drums pummel through to attack the attention parallel to the heartbeat of the audience themselves. To top the album off, ‘’The Jeweller’s Hand’s’’ makes similar stains on the new carpet of multicoloured keyboard sections and lush arrangements stringing the songs together.

It takes guts to set up camp in a new space, but in order to enter a new room in a house at the foundations of our supernatural compulsions; one must first win over the trust of the one you want to enter with. The first couple of albums sealed the deal with how much Arctic Monkey’s mean to its audience, thus earning their trust respectively, now they have the keys to experiment as much as they please after listening to this album that somehow makes Sheffield look like the desert in a spellbinding motion of fast, slow, futuristic, but also brilliantly retro.

The artwork, if wanting to match the otherworldly standards of the album itself, would overdo it slightly. Instead, a simplistic photograph tainted by double vision in a delicious purple backdrop, that packages the album nicely without losing any of that magic within.

-Words by Ryan Walker-

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s