Like the hard Candy of the title, Artic Monkeys have had the sugar coating sucked off for their third outing, to reveal a complex bitter centre that’s sure to leave a slightly sour taste in some fan’s mouths.
Obviously taking cues from The Last Shadow Puppets’ downbeat manifesto, Humbug flirts with different sounds throughout, and while Crying Lightning may have seemed an unusual choice for first single, a quick listen reveals it’s actually the most radio friendly track here. Josh Homme produces, and it’s clear the time in the desert sun with the QOTSA man has affected the boys.
Jolting, jumpy grooves abound, proceedings stopping and starting; occasionally slowing to a druggy stoner crawl, before bouncing flecks of dark Britpop attempt to pull things back into gear. There’s some cavernous tremolo vocals lurking at the heart of ‘Cornerstone’, while ‘Dangerous Animals’ comes off like the hippy son of the James Bond theme.
Elsewhere ‘Potion Approaching’ is a brave new approach to the love song, and the out-of-time-and-place anti-groove of ‘Pretty Visitors’ is a surprising dip in a psychedelic sea that may not look good on any dancefloors, but is still a complex, densely layered track will demand hours of your post pub attention.
A great album with a strong promise of better to come.