Below is my first published article in the University of Missouri paper, The Maneater, Check it out, and check the awesome official website version here.
Humbug a failed experiment
New Arctic Monkeys album is change we don't need.
Published Sept. 1, 2009
The Arctic Monkeys stormed onto the music scene in 2006 and took no prisoners, as their debut album became one of the fastest selling albums in British history. With front man Alex Turner's incredibly detailed and insightful lyrics and powerful instrumentals, the Arctic Monkeys quickly made a name for themselves, proving they were going to be sticking around for a while.
With smash hits like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor," the Arctic Monkeys rocketed into mainstream fame, getting radio play and festival appearances alike. Now, three successful years later, Arctic Monkeys have found themselves on the center stage of the music world and in an attempt to keep the world interested, the band tried doing things a little differently this time.
From a band that's been known for its energetic and aggressive sound, their newest album, Humbug, seems to venture into a bit of a darker, more reserved direction. The lyrics, though still interesting, touch different topics from the usually lighter fare about partying and having fun the Arctic Monkeys have put forth in the past.
With lyrics such as, "Your past-times/consisted of the strange/the twisted and deranged/I loved that little game," it's clear the band has departed not only from their usual topics, but potentially from their old genre altogether. In leaving behind their aggressive, overly rambunctious roots, the Arctic Monkeys test the boundaries of their hard-earned mainstream status, seeing just how much they can really do with their sound. And they show a lot of range with potential for future change and experimentation through new sounds.
The band's use of different techniques and new instruments, such as organs, create a much darker, almost sinister sound that works very well on tracks such as "Pretty Visitors," but less successfully on the clichéd spelled-out chorus of "Dangerous Animals."
With this less upbeat style, the Arctic Monkeys have taken a lot of risks, showing they're very capable, not only of stretching their limits, but redefining their sound. Unfortunately, the album makes some pretty heavy sacrifices in overall album quality in doing so. Granted, Humbug is not a bad album, not by far. The songs are interesting and enjoyable, but they lack what makes the Arctic Monkeys the Arctic Monkeys.
By giving up on the high energy sound fans have grown so fond of, the album never really succeeds in taking off, flirting several times with its true potential, only to once again lose energy and delve into more depressing riffs.
It might seem unorthodox to recommend that a band experiment less, but in the case of the Arctic Monkeys, it would seem sound advice. When a band is famous for making fun, energetic music, it's a bit of a shock to one's senses when they put out an album that can best be described as morose. Although musically entertaining, Humbug has little potential to be listened to multiple times and will tend to leave most diehard Arctic Monkeys fans disappointed in the end.