I think it is not possible to write about the music scene without mentioning the Arctic Monkeys. To me, they are extraordinary in almost every way you can ask for, and as much as that sounds like a Hallmark card greeting, it stands true, even til today.
When they popped their first album Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not, alot of people freaked out. I mean, how old were these fellas when they first took the music scene by storm? And since then, except for the age problem, it’s been hard to find any fault. Nobody got married in Vegas, nobody got caught drunk driving or even with bad hair for that matter. And with the second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, they’ve proven that their music is capable of growing and maturing along with themselves.
But before I go further, I think you should know right from the start that Humbug is not an album that everybody would embrace. In the past, I likened their music to a disco ball, sometimes unbelievably bright like a Flourescent Adolescent, other times taking on darker shades like Do me a favour and 505. But most of the time, it’s flickering, jittery and tempestuous like in When the Sun Goes Down, The View from the Afternoon etc. It’s their multi-faceted talent that has made them some of the more exciting things to have happened in the recent past.
With that said, Humbug becomes somewhat of a reflux. Maybe it was intended as a reaction to what we’ve been expecting out of these guys. Whilst we’re looking forward to see the band get into the height of the action on the dancefloor, they have instead chosen to bitterly retract to the sidelines, becoming that guy who hangs around the singles corner alone, mulling things over warm beer.
But this also means they are no longer bothered by the flashing lights, and ends up sounding a lot more emotionally invested than in any other album, like the emotive hooks in the chorus of Crying Lightning, or the bittersweetness of Secret Door. But the thing to really celebrate about is how Alex Turner is carrying the weight of the bands’ undisputed credibility very well with his new and improved vocals. In this album, there is less of the emo-yakkity-yak-yaks, but more of the suave leading man qualities of what we’ve seen previously in The Last Shadow Puppets. His vocals are at once sharp, fearless and corrosive as it was in Dangerous Animal, seductively temptatious in The Fire and the Thud and he skillfully maintains an equipoise between sounding like a wounded soul and a hopeful individual in Cornerstone.
The album registers a bitter note, and although other critics describes this as the band’s attempt to reinvent itself and develope a new sound, I would say this is nothing we haven’t seen from the guys, it ‘s always been around if you’d listened carefully enough. the Arctic Monkeys are not still searching; in fact, Humbug is their way of showing us that they’ve finally settled down with something they are comfortable with. Although these four flourescent adolescents are more muted than we’ve ever known them to be (and even though Alex Turner is looking more and more like his own girlfriend) , they’re still the same band we know, just a little bit bruised.
I have a feeling they’re gonna stay so for some time.
Picture taken from www.antiquiet.com