The Arctic Monkeys, victims of their intense popularity, have faced some fairly high expectations since announcing work had begun on their third full-length album. It’s fair to say that Humbug is an important album for the band; the effort will reveal whether or not the Arctic Monkeys have the resolve to make it past the two-album mark while still being able to progress their sound.
Queens Of The Stone Age front man Josh Homme produced all but three of the tracks and his influence can definitely be heard at points. This is as heavy as the band has ever sounded and it's fair to say that they've definitely taken on a new direction -- and one for the better.
Of the ten tracks on the album, the first that pricks the ears is third track "Dangerous Animals", which starts with the ominous words “pinned down by the dark", before launching into a hammering riff. Simple but hooky, the song exudes a menacing persona while beaming the familiar characteristics of an Arctic Monkeys song. Following on from the third track is the more subdued "Secret Door", which draws comparison with "The Only Ones Who Know", a track off their previous album from 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare.
Front man Alex Turner’s lyrics have become more intriguingly themed in places, especially on the final track of the record, "Jeweller’s Hand", where he sings “But you know what it’s like to hold the jeweller’s hand, that procession of pioneers all drowned”, which hints at a potential change in lyrical theme for future work.
The third offering from the Sheffield based-band more than meets the high expectations placed on it. Humbug has a darker thickness to it than their previous albums, elevating it to their most established and conscious record to date.
Reviewed by Asa Masters.