Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What we're listening to: Humbug by the Arctic Monkeys

Following up their 2007 release of Favourite Worst Nightmare, England's Arctic Monkeys have put out another great album in Humbug. They start off with "My Propeller," a song seductive in both the delivery of Alex Turner's vocals and its guitar refrain, not to mention the lyrics themselves. The Arctic Monkeys have a distinctive lead singer in the voice of Turner, due to his point of view shared in the lyrics and the fact that his Yorkshire accent is very prominent. Turner, who wrote the lyrics for all the songs on the album, has an amazing ability to tell vivid stories during short three to five minute songs.

"Cornerstone" is a fine example of Turner's storytelling skills and is also my favorite song from Humbug. In this song a guy describes how he keeps thinking he sees a particular woman around town (at The Battleship, Rusty Hook, Parrot's Beak, and finally The Cornerstone), but when he realizes it's not her he still asks the lookalike, "Please can I call you her name?" I just love the way this song builds as he goes place to place without having any success finding her: "I've asked everyone / I'm beginning to think I imagined you all along."

I won't heap all the praise on Turner; another reason I love the Arctic Monkeys is because their style of music moves between being aggressive and restrained. This album includes songs that are very aggressive and loud ("Potion Approaching," "Pretty Visitors"), contemplative and restrained ("Cornerstone," "Jeweller's Hands"), and a combination of both sides ("Crying Lightning," "Fire and the Thud," "Dance Little Liar"). I have enjoyed their previous albums of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006) and Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), and believe that Humbug further reinforces their talent as a band, as it is their strongest showing yet.

Check out a copy of Humbug from Dundee Township Public Library District--
Find it in the catalog!

On Sunday the Arctic Monkeys perform at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago!