The Arctic Monkeys Emerge From The Hype Machine, Slightly Scarred

noah | August 24, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Humbug, the third album by onetime Next Big British Things the Arctic Monkeys: • “Turner’s gift for the telling detail remains acute, especially in ‘Cornerstone,’ where his ex appears like a mirage in every pub he trolls. The band in many ways is playing better than ever, with guitarist Jamie Cook trying out plenty of new voicings and drummer Matt Helders expertly navigating the zig-zag turns in the arrangements. But there’s a problem when the tangents are more plentiful and intriguing than the melodies. On Humbug, texture and atmosphere trump tempo and tunes — and not always for the best.” [Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune] • “Humbug isn’t better than either of its predecessors, but it expands the group’s range and makes me curious where it might go next. It also demonstrates a great deal of staying power for a band that could have imploded before it ever got this far.” [Joe Tangari, Pitchfork] • “So there you go. Humbug is a pretty good album that’s pleasingly incongruous amongst the pre-fab boredom of much modern Brit indie. It’s eminently not astounding but it is inventive, and likeably so. Re-insert into the context of once-megaselling band Arctic Monkeys’ career, worry about notions of perversity, bravery, what this all means and how this will affect their futures and it’s a bit of a headfuck. Isolate and you have an entertaining record; let’s maybe just content ourselves with that.” [Andrezj Lukowski, Drowned In Sound] • “If ‘My Propeller’ was the foreboding opening overture, then ‘The Jeweller’s Hand’ is its fellow bookend. The trip is over. But rather than the veil of madness lifting, we follow the piper’s tune over the hills into Mad Land. ‘A procession of pioneers’ proffers Turner, pausing again mid-sentence with priestly authority as the ground gives way beneath us, ‘all drowned.’ Well, of course they did, you cynical bastards. No-one gets out alive in the Arctics’ world. They’re fatalistic, smirking sceptics who’ll never, ever take the soft option. They’re exactly the sort of rock’n’roll band you shouldn’t put your life in the hands of. And that’s exactly why you should love them even more.” [Gavin Haynes, NME]