Facing the third album blues, the Arctic Monkeys turned to Josh Homme, the Queens of the Stone Age mastermind renowned for his collaborations but heretofore untested as a producer. On first glance, it's a peculiar pair--the heirs of Paul Weller meet the heavy desert mystic--but this isn't a team of equals, it's a big brother helping his little siblings go wayward and get weird. Homme doesn't imprint his own views on the Monkeys but encourages them to follow their strange instincts. Wading into the murk of HUMBUG it becomes clear that the common ground between the Monkeys and Homme is the actual act of making music, the pleasure of not knowing what comes next when an entire band is drifting inside a zone.
Since so much of HUMBUG is about its process, it's not always immediately accessible or pleasurable to an outside listener, nor is it quite the thickly colored freakout Homme's presence suggests. The Monkeys still favor angular riffs and clenched rhythms, constructing tightly framed vignettes not widescreen epics, but they're working with a darker palette and creating vaguely abstract compositions, sensibilities that extend to Alex Turner's words too, as he trades keen detail for vivid scrawled impressions. Every element of the album reflects a band testing its limits, seeing where they could go next.
- Released: 08/25/2009
- Genre: Rock
- Format: Vinyl