Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
on 19 August 2009
I sit on the fence with this album. I did not enjoy Favourite Worst Nightmare, but was enthused to hear that Josh Homme was working on this album. You can definitely hear his influence on these tracks in the dark and brooding tone of the songs with several having QoTSA-esque off-kilter time signatures and unnerving guitar solos ('Pretty Visitors' being the prime example). There are hints of other bands too; 'My Propellor' reminds me of Echo & the Bunnymen a little, and 'Potion Approaching' is Nirvana-esque.
The album seems quite one-dimensional with all of the songs sounding too similar in my mind. It lacks the oomph of the band's debut. Even the structure of the songs is quite samey, with many tracks relying on a short riff running throughout the verse to drive the track ('Dangerous Animals' is one such example). While these are intelligently written, they are not memorable enough to hook the listener. The album does give some of Alex's best vocal performances though, particularly in 'Secret Door' and 'Cornerstone' (perhaps the two best tracks on the album), with a return to his crooning Scott Walker-esque vocals as heard on the Last Shadow Puppets album.
Overall though the album is somewhat average. I'm all for moving forward and experimenting with musical styles, but not at the expense of energy and hooks. The songs are good, but nothing more than that, and the album becomes a little dull, even monotonous, towards the end because the pace remains the same throughout. It is not until 'Pretty Visitors' (which is another good track, despite the suspect lyric - 'What came first...?'), the penultimate track, that we get a faster song. Gone is the excitement of Whatever People Say I Am..., replaced by a certain reserve and restraint, as if the band are playing safe. It is better than Favourite Worst Nightmare, if only because it is more consistent, but while 'Cornerstone' is perhaps one of their best tracks to date, the other songs do not hold up to the Arctic Monkeys' back catalogue.