Thursday, September 3, 2009

HUMBUG-Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys
Status-Out as of 2009
3rd Studio Album
Rating-3.5 feathers

The third album for many bands seems to be the time where the band decides “Hey, let’s completely change our sound”. This either tremendously helps or hurts that band. Why should Arctic Monkeys be any different? Well, apparently they aren’t. Known for their guitar-heavy fast post-punk sound, these four Sheffielders decided to leave their classic sound for a significantly slowed down and darker ‘Humbug.’

Even with just one listen, you can tell these are not the same teenagers who wrote ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. The starter song, innuendo heavy ‘My Propeller’, takes on a heavier and darker tone from the first drum hit. It shows promise, but after 6 seconds, it takes a dive for the worse, leaving behind a heavy-set slow paced rhythm section and vocals that offer no punch, at all. To be honest, it really does not make you want to hear what follows. What does follow is a trip through the good and the ugly, the brilliant and the lifeless. ‘Dangerous Animals’ offers both, sort of. It is instrumental section is powerful and the main riff is reminiscent of ‘Teddy Picker’s’, but the lyrics are terrible. Alex Turner, the man who wrote ‘A Certain Romance’, now writes a song where the chorus spells out the song name. It is admittedly catchy, but come on! It just seems like a major step back. ‘Potion Approaching’ is even worse. The main riff is alright, heavy like ‘Dangerous Animals’, but it doesn’t give the song anything. To make matters worse, the lyrics and vocals are even more of a drain. The thing they consider the chorus sounds more like a sorry excuse for a bridge, and the verses are simply forgettable. A song like ‘Secret Door’, however, is like the light at the end of a tunnel. It is calmer than what Arctic Monkeys usually do, but shows their musical skill. The song’s sweeping guitars and melodic vocals work so well to create a beautiful masterpiece. The chorus is cheesy, but the verses are sung with just enough punch to make the song purely brilliant. ‘Cornerstone’ brings you a tune similar to ‘The Bakery’, but with immense comic relief (e.g. “She was close, close enough to be your ghost/but my chances turned to toast”). Its instrumentation is lovely, utilizing their psuedo-slide guitars to encase a bright yet regretful tone that subtly builds to a wonderful fulfilled ending. Unfortunately, ‘Pretty Visitors’ is the last great song on the album. The keyboard intro sets it up for awesomeness. It frantically dives into a mess of pounding drums, speedy vocals, and intense guitar, making the only legitimately fast-paced song on the album. It is the perfect follow-up to their last singles ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’; it is what I had hoped the album would sound like. What’s separating these 3 songs from each other are the drones that are ‘Fire and the Thud’, ‘Dance Little Liar’, and ‘The Jeweller’s Hands’. To be honest, nothing happens in any of them; they just come and go. ‘Fire and the Thud’ features Alison Mosshart on vocals, but it has a royal trainwreck of an ending, and the ‘Jeweller’s Hands’ is just a tired, tired ending.

As whole, this album was tired. The majority was uneventful, whereas the minority embodied pure genius. Though substantially disappointed with the album, I have come to terms with the fact that they are maturing and trying new things. They did not fail at conveying their new sound by any means, but they just went a little too over board doing it. I had hoped this album would be more like a continuation of ‘Da Frame 2R’ and ‘Nettles’, both which encompasses a darker sound but still sounds like trademark Arctic Monkeys. They surely won’t gain any fans based on this album, but fans will still find something to cling on to. Bah Humbug.

"We're so lound now. I just don't think we could handle a little stage now because we'd struggle to keep from blowing your head off."-Alex Turner

Video for Crying Lightning

Recommendations: Pretty Visitors, Secret Door, Cornerstone
Arctic Monkeys Official Website
Note: This, in my opinion, was Arctic Monkeys worst album. It's not bad, it's not. It's just not any where near as amazing as the 1st two were. The 1st couple of listens I found it very uninspiring, and only my 3 recommendations stuck out (and they're still the only ones). If I rated it as a diehard fan perhaps it would've been rated way worse, but I rated it removing my fan mentality. Anyway, I bought the album the day after it came out (a week ago), so sorry for not getting the review out faster, I needed processing time. I'll have a Death Cab for Cutie review or that Tapes 'n Tapes review I've been talking about out next. Enjoy and stay tuned!
EDIT: Originally I had my review at 3.5, and then I changed it to 3, but now I've rechanged it to 3.5. Sorry, very unprofessional, but I slept on it, and methinks it deserves a 3.5.

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