Humbug (album)

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Humbug
Studio album by Arctic Monkeys
Released 19 August 2009
Recorded November 2008 – April 2009
New York City, Los Angeles, Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California
Genre Psychedelic rock, indie rock,[1] garage rock
Length 39:20
Label Domino
Producer Josh Homme, James Ford
Arctic Monkeys chronology
At the Apollo
(2008)
Humbug
(2009)
Suck It and See
(2011)
Singles from Humbug
  1. "Crying Lightning"
    Released: 6 July 2009
  2. "Cornerstone"
    Released: 16 November 2009
  3. "My Propeller"
    Released: 22 March 2010

Humbug is the third studio album by the English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys, first released on 19 August 2009 by Domino Records. The band started to write songs for the album towards the end of summer 2008, and finished it entirely on spring 2009.

Like their last release, Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), Humbug was released first in Japan, on 19 August 2009, followed by Australia, Brazil, Ireland and Germany, on 21 August 2009. It was then released in the UK on 24 August 2009, in the US the following day and in Greece on 31 August. The release preceded the band's headline performances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals at the end of that week.

Writing and recording[edit]

The band started writing songs for the album towards the end of summer 2008, with lead singer Alex Turner suggesting that the inspiration for the first few guitar riffs came while the band were attending the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.[2] Tracks were written through the end of 2008, with recording taking place around the band's touring schedule towards late 2008 and early 2009.[3]

Co-produced by Josh Homme,[4] the album was wholly recorded in the United States. Homme-produced tracks recorded in Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert alongside New York City recordings produced – as per the second album – by James Ford,[3] who also produced the album The Age of the Understatement by Turner's side-project The Last Shadow Puppets.

While recording the album, the band incorporated a wide variety of instruments that they had not used previously. Baritone and slide guitars can be heard throughout the album, as well as new guitar effects. The presence of a variety of keyboards on almost every track was something new for the band, with lead singer Alex Turner recording all of them himself with the exception of the album's singles, which were handled by session and touring keyboardist John Ashton.[5] The presence of new percussion instruments was also evident, as the band used xylophones, glockenspiels and shakers.

Early soundbites of tracks from the album appeared in the band's periodical video diary on YouTube.[6] While being interviewed for the BBC Culture Show, Alex Turner and Matt Helders cited Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Jake Thackray, John Cale, Nick Cave, Roky Erickson, and The Beatles were all major influences on the recording of the album.

Release[edit]

The first single of the album was "Crying Lightning". It was released on 6 July, when it was played on BBC Radio 1 and was available for download from iTunes after midnight that day. On 4 October 2009 the band's official website announced the second single from the album would be "Cornerstone"[7] The Cornerstone B-side's were announced as being "Catapult", "Sketchead" and "Fright Lined Dining Room".

On 1 February 2010, the third single from the album was announced to be "My Propeller", which similar to other singles from the album, was released on 7" and as an exclusive 10" vinyl available only in Oxfam shops. The B-sides on the 10" vinyl were "Joining the Dots", "The Afternoon's Hat" and "Don't Forget Whose Legs You're On", with just "Joining the Dots" available as a B-side on the 7" version.

By September 2013 the album had sold 320,921 copies in the UK.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 75/100[8]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[9]
The A.V. Club C+[10]
Billboard 82/100[11]
Clash 4/5 stars[12]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[13]
NME 7/10[14]
Pitchfork Media 7.2/10[15]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[16]
Spin 6/10[17]
Uncut 4/5 stars[18]

Humbug received mostly positive reviews from critics, with many praising the band's newfound maturity.[19] Billboard stated that the band "justif[ies] the hype by shifting its best qualities into different, equally dazzling shapes,"[20] while The Record Review noted that with Humbug, the Arctic Monkeys proved themselves to be a "band that surpasses most of its colleagues in terms of songwriting and performance ability."[21] In his positive review of the album, Joe Tangari of Pitchfork Media noted that "Humbug isn't better than either of its predecessors, but it expands the group's range and makes me curious where it might go next. It also demonstrates a great deal of staying power for a band that could have imploded before it ever got this far."[22] While overall response was positive, the album was criticised by some for not containing the same hooks that the band had become known for, with Spin calling the album "accomplished, but not particularly infectious."[23]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Alex Turner, except where noted [24]

No. Title Length
1. "My Propeller"   3:27
2. "Crying Lightning"   3:43
3. "Dangerous Animals"   3:30
4. "Secret Door"   3:43
5. "Potion Approaching"   3:32
6. "Fire and the Thud"   3:57
7. "Cornerstone"   3:18
8. "Dance Little Liar"   4:43
9. "Pretty Visitors"   3:40
10. "The Jeweller's Hands"   5:42
Total length:
39:20

Credits and personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Ready for the Weekend by Calvin Harris
UK Albums Chart number-one album
30 August 2009 – 12 September 2009
Succeeded by
We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn by Vera Lynn

Release history[edit]

Country Date
Japan 19 August 2009
Australia 21 August 2009
Austria
Brazil
Ireland
Germany
Switzerland
United Kingdom 24 August 2009
Canada 25 August 2009
United States
Finland 26 August 2009
Sweden
Italy 28 August 2009
Greece 31 August 2009
Turkey

Source:[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC – Seven Ages of Rock "What the World Is Waiting For"". Seven Ages of Rock. 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Arctic Monkeys going 'full on Black Sabbath' for new album". NME. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Arctic Monkeys Confirm New Album Details". MTV UK. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  4. ^ "Arctic Monkeys Announce New Album | News". Pitchfork. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb10/articles/homme.htm
  6. ^ "The View From... The Birthday Boy". Arctic Monkeys Official YouTube Channel. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  7. ^ New Single Announcement
  8. ^ "Humbug (Arctic Monkeys) Metacritic Review". Metacritic. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Stephen (25 August 2009). "Humbug – Arctic Monkeys". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Murray, Noel. "Arctic Monkeys: Humbug | Music". A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Lipshutz, Jason. "Arctic Monkeys, "Humbug"". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "Arctic Monkeys – Humbug | Clash Music Latest Album Review". Clashmusic.com. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Petridis, Alexis (20 August 2009). "Arctic Monkeys: Humbug. Arctic Monkeys have got a brave new California sound. Thankfully, they've kept their homegrown sense of humour". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  14. ^ Haynes, Gavin. "Album Review: Arctic Monkeys – 'Humbug'". NME. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  15. ^ Tangari, Joe. "Arctic Monkeys: Humbug (Domino; 2009)". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  16. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "Humbug: Arctic Monkeys: Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  17. ^ Fennessey, Sean. "Arctic Monkeys, 'Humbug' (Domino) | SPIN". Spin. Spin Media LLC. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "Album Review". Uncut.co.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  19. ^ The Black Crowes Reawakened
  20. ^ "Arctic Monkeys, "Humbug"". Billboard.com. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Arctic Monkeys Continue to Beat Criticism
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  24. ^ ASCAP Entry
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