Arctic Monkeys stormed out of Sheffield, England onto the international music scene in 2005 but they’d been solidified as a band since the early part of the noughties. First out was Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, a staggering debut that has held its own as one of the top CDs of the decade – as well as frankly being one of the best CDs ever. Another stunner of an album came out in 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare, again the kind of album that you could imagine being a true album and could watch its little grooves as it pops along on your record player.
For the third CD, Humbug they worked with Josh Homme as producer, and it’s a winning combination. Homme has brought out a harder and sinister side to the music. The CD starts with the rabidly sexy My Propeller then eases into Crying Lightning with its swiveling guitar and biting bass, in fact all tracks on the CD have this amazing swiveling guitar. Crying Lightning twins the sordid lyrics with guitar work in a perfect and groovy way: . . .your pastimes consisted of the strange, the twisted and deranged/and I hate that little game you had called ‘Crying Lightning’/and how you liked to aggravate the ice cream man on rainy afternoons. Dangerous Animals is another sultry stomper and it’s perhaps the most immediately recognizable as an Arctic Monkeys song. Again it’s a seriously sensuous piece with a jumping depth: You sharpen the heel of your boot and you press it in my chest/And you make me wheeze/Then to my knees you promote me. . . The most unsuitable pet. Other tracks I especially like are Secret Door and Cornerstone. My favorite track though just might be Pretty Visitors. The trip this song takes me on is jagged and it unnerves excellently with its mad tempo change. It begins slowly but then quickly speeds up, slows down in a dirge, then ramps up with aggression and anger, then does it in other variations all over again: All the pretty visitors came and waved their arms and cast the shadow of a snake pit on the wall.
Lyricist and singer Alex Turner has proven himself again to be a superior artist with a dark voice. I don’t want to leave out the rest of the band though – they’re all magic on Humbug. And take a close listen to the drums.