The more I listen to Arctic Monkeys, the more I can appreciate their relative importance in the birth of modern indie music. Their similar-sounding indie anthems dominate clubs up and down the country, and rightly so. Crafting one hit is a difficult task, so for Alex Turner and his fellow Monkeys to present us with a great handful of classic night out tunes is something I’m tremendously thankful for. Humbug, however, offers nothing of the sort. I can understand their mainstream success, but for those that wish to delve deeper or find comfort in their niche tracks are alien to the concept of a good B-Side, and nowhere is that truer than Humbug.
Featuring only one worthwhile track (Crying Lightning), Humbug is a collection of acerbic nonsense. Forgettable songwriting paves the way for some miserably overbaked guitar riffs. Lacking the venomous originality of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not or the collective brilliance and consistency of Favourite Worst Nightmare, the third studio album showcases that Arctic Monkeys have nowhere to go but down. It should be no surprise that this is the case, especially when opening their album with the instantly forgettable My Propeller.
Propelling us through an album so inconsistent and bland, there are very few songs that exude the confidence the band had on their first two albums. Picking up ever so briefly with the enjoyable mixture of soothing beats and engaging vocals of Fire and Thud, to the glimmers of charm in Cornerstone. That’s about all the album has to offer though, forgettable indie kicks that won’t leave any impact at all. There’s no moment in the album that can define it as anything out of the ordinary to the mass of music on offer in the indie movement, no unique audible difference between this and the plucky tracks of your other tone-deaf young hopefuls.
Starting out on a wobble, never recovering and then ending on a dud makes the album progressively become a real chore to listen to. Nothing of interest surfaces throughout Humbug. The definition of a humbug is deceptive behaviour in the hopes of tricking an audience. Arctic Monkeys have tricked millions into thinking they’re the greatest indie music has to offer, but in actual fact, they’re far from great. I’d consider it a misfire if the rest of their discography weren’t suffering from that same bloated feeling. Humbug is bloated, a real disaster for an album a mere forty minutes in length.