Harry Harland (The Arctic Monkeys – Humbug)
The Arctic Monkeys have had a strange sort of career. They burst onto the scene with a record-breaking number 1 single and album, were tipped as stadium rock’s heirs to the Libertines. They were destined to emulate the likes of Oasis and Coldplay and become Britain’s next MASSIVE rock band.
Despite appearing, with aplomb, at the opening ceremony of the Olympics a few weeks ago, I think it’s fair to say that their career, while immensely successful, has not thusfar hit the soaring heights that their early potential hinted at. Which is unfortunate, as they have actually been improving as a band all the time. For me, their best release was their 3rd full album, Humbug, which was released to very little fanfare back in 2009.
The album was number 1 for a solitary week, and remains to date their only release to not go gold in the UK, let alone platinum (something their debut did 4 times over). Produced by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, the record reeks of his scuzzy, dirty sound. Kicking off with bass-led singles My Propeller and Crying Lightning, the album carries all the stoner-rock influences of its producer; indeed during the sexy sounding middle section of Potion Approaching, you could easily be listening to some of Homme’s own Desert Sessions.
It is however the latter half of the album that really contains the true gems of this potential lost classic. Cornerstone (below) is, I genuinely believe, one of the best songs written this millennium. A tender, beautifully arranged ballad which plays to the band’s strengths and demonstrates that there is so much more to them than the frenetic pace of their early singles. Dance Little Liar is another slow burner, building up to a crescendo of tremolo guitar before Turner’s voice kicks lazily back in.
In the cold light of day this is still, quite simply, an almost flawless album. It seems amazing and most unfortunate that it is probably the Monkeys’ least well-known one. Such is the way of music.