Time for another Song by Song, in which I take you through my thoughts upon my first hearing of a new album, so you can pick it up for yourself if it sounds like your cup of tea, or avoid it if it sounds like a big puddle of crap. So much fun it should be illegal.
Humbug by the Arctic Monkeys
1. My Propeller
An alright track by anyone's standard, but compared to other Arctic Monkeys' openers ('View from the Afternoon' and 'Brianstorm', for example), this is kind of weak. No brooding minor-key tones or hideously obvious sexual undertones can save you now, I'm afraid- hope this picks up...
2. Crying Lightning
I really do like this song- intriguing lyrics, chant-able chorus, and the way there's something darkly exciting about the whole composition. This song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the week now.
3. Dangerous Animals
Ooft, more double entendres? You saucy little primates! Seems like the vibe for this record is going to be 'dark, brooding and ridiculously sexual'- particularly if the S+M-esque lyrics are anything to go by: "Sharpen the heel of your boot, And you press it to my chest and you make me wheeze".
4. Secret Door
Love the eerily tranquil opening. This is a song of contrast for me- the overall sound suggests that the Arctic Monkeys are maturing like a fine cheese, and leaving behind the joyful, carefree days of 'Topshop princesses' and such. But, then the immature lyrics say otherwise. In a word: confused.
5. Potion Approaching
The thing that always slightly puts me off from the Arctic Monkeys is that the vocals and the melody (particularly in the verses) don't quite mesh together, which is evident in this song. However, this is the only song thus far that I've found this with. I like the change of tempo around 2 and a half minutes in as well.
6. Fire and the Thud
This track features guest vocals from Allison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather), which fits in quite nicely with the spooky vibe goin' on in this song, and the entire album thus far. Not as strong as the other tracks thus far, but it's surprisingly quiet. Are we going to get a song that's comparatively peaceful throughout, and still good? Wait, no, it's got loud. I forgot the Arctic Monkeys can't stay quiet for more than three minutes- they're kind of like hyperactive kids.
Wow- now this I like. The subject's a wee bit creepy (trying to get a girl to effectively become an ex-lover), but it's weirdly beautiful. And quiet! There's no shouting, or electric guitar solos loud enough to make your ears bleed... Maybe the really are growing up.
8. Dance Little Liar
Same dark vibe still prevailing. Echoing sounds, backing vocals that sound like ghosts, and some pretty damn awesome drumming. Not as in your face as their previous work, but they appear to have slipped to the other side of the spectrum- some of these songs aren't catchy enough to be memorable. I'm probably not going to remember what this song sounded like when I proof-read this review.
9. Pretty Visitors
Hey, it's catchy! Much more like we've come to expect from the Arctic Monkeys. Strong, compelling chorus. Lyrics are a little ropey at times- 'What came first, the chicken or the dickhead?' Really?
10. The Jeweller's Hands
Not too shabby, but doesn't really stand up as a closer. For a last song, you want something that's a bit of a triumph, but doesn't sound like you've left all of your talent for the final hour. It doesn't really present a conclusion or a finale, and isn't a stand out song for me.
Overall, this is definitely a different direction for the Arctic Monkeys. Less a collection of potential indie anthems, and more of a dark pysch-rock record, that's seductive and downright creepy in equal measure. I think I quiet like it- not the best I've heard this year, but still a bold record with a clear concept. Good stuff.