28 August 2009

Arctic Monkeys: “Humbug”

Arctic Monkeys are back with their third album, “Humbug” (24 August 2009 in the UK, 25 August 2009 in the USA). Comprised of Jamie Cook (guitar), Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals), Nick O’Malley (bass, backing vocals) and Alex Turner (vocals, guitar), the band whet the appetite of their fan base when they released the single “Crying Lightning” via iTunes (6 July 2009). Primarily an indie band with some post-punk revival influence, the band has always been a fresh breath of air in the music industry that has lately started to get repetitive and stale. Yet, the band has finally shown what they are capable of in their third album, experimenting with sounds and overall composition, not to mention the album was recorded in the USA (New York and California). Whether it was years in the industry or the location of where they recorded, the sound is fresh and new and an interesting development.

The album begins with the song “My Propeller,” which is a comfortable Arctic Monekys’ song that fans will love, but it is different enough to give others pause to take a listen again. The sound combines some of the band’s better qualities: a slow and catchy rhythm that beautifully mixes with the vocals of Alex Turner and well arranged backup vocals, that gives the song a vintage feel. The second track does not fail in comparison to the first, shifting the tempo enough for distinction with a smooth transition. By this point, you are sucked into listening to the album. Ultimately, the entire album not only has amazing songwriting and arrangements going for it, but also the fact that the band has brought out their potential on each of these songs is evident, giving each song its own personality and “soul.”

The biggest departure from their previous work is that this collection of songs is slower paced. What I really like about the vocals is that Alex Turner’s voice is haunting in a way that it never was… mesmerizing you into submission. This is a very different Arctic Monkeys, one that is displaying their ability to mature and develop their craftsmanship. Just take my favorite track on the album, “Cornerstone,” which has a mellowness to it that makes it all the more beautiful and seductive. It is the story of young love, a universal theme that we can all relate to. Arctic Monkeys understands more and more how to approach their themes, with a twist enough to be unique, but with a quality that endearing to all.

This is a new sound for the Arctic Monkeys, and they have mastered it. “Humbug” is a testament of a band refining themselves and growing as artists, instead of rehashing the same old cliché over and over again. One last side note, which is a thumbs up for the band: they are currently offering free download codes on the vinyl editions of the single “Crying Lightning” and the proceeds of the vinyl will go to charity. Not only a great band, but great social consciousness – something lacking in the music industry by and large.

Track Listing:
1. My Propeller
2. Crying Lightning
3. Dangerous Animals
4. Secret Door
5. Potion Approaching
6. Fire and the Thud
7. Cornerstone
8. Dance Little Liar
9. Pretty Visitors
10. The Jeweller’s Hands

Keep up with Arctic Monkeys at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

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