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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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I would regard myself as one of the most avid listeners of the Arctic Monkeys, and anything by Alex Turner to be honest. But I have to say that 2009's 'Humbug' is the one album by the band that listen to the least. It's still very good, but I think it's the weakest of the five. This album moved away from the sound of the first two, but I always like to see progression. If you didn't care for the 'in-your-face' style of the first releases (which I loved by the way), you might well still be able to appreciate this record, which you'll probably regard as more accomplished.

The songs here are certainly more mature, but their much slower, and it took me a few listens to be able to get used this new style. I must add that this wasn't the case with the next one however, and I do believe Suck It And See to be a far better album. 'Humbug' ultimately receives a 3.5 star rating for me, it's by no means an instant classic, but just let it grow on you, I did, and I'm glad that I gave it that chance. Jamie Cook is a first-class guitar player, Alex Tuner's lyrics and vocals are up there with the very best, and his cheeky trademark words, and sneering delivering are still here, only now with some beautiful melodies in the tunes.

The dreamy 'Secret Door', phenomenal and ingenious 'My Propeller', and the breezy love song 'Cornerstone' are my favourites, but the highlight comes at the very end with the magical closer: 'The Jeweller's Hands', which is a truly haunting piece, with mysterious lyrics which demand multiple interpretations. This gem has the most interesting lyrics of any the Arctic's songs, the words are so very deep, and I regard this one at least to be among my all-time favourites in Arctic Monkeys' backlog. Buy this album, there is much to enjoy.
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on 16 March 2017
Mostly brilliant songs. 2 filler tracks. That is all.
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on 14 January 2016
Hubby's a fan!
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on 26 August 2009
I'm dismayed about the number of negative reviews for this album. Personally I think this is their best album to date. I agree it has not got the instant pop rock feel of 'Whatever...' but it has a far more complex layered sound that takes repeated listens to really appreciate. We have become far too dependent on the instant gratification that pop records provide: the sugar rush. However, instant short term pleasure often leads to long term disappointment. Give this album time and reap the reward of dark, subtle and brooding classic.
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on 30 August 2014
For those who may be put off by the negative feedback many Amazon users have given for 'Humbug', I have some news for you: listening to this album first time through, I also thought it was terrible and the worst Monkeys album, let alone a monumental step down from 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'. I thought the songs were droning and soporific, and the lyrics contrived. What I have come to realise thought is that, like many pieces of great art, it takes a couple of tries for the human mind to come to appreciate the delicateness of 'Humbug'.

I feel that the majority of the negative comments and low star ratings that Humbug has garnered from Amazon reviews come from their noticeable shift in musical style, from the heavy, excitable riff-based focus employed in 'WPSIATWIN' and 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' to this album, which employs a much more experimental mix of music. However, I feel that one of the most masterful elements of this album is the perfect fusing between the subject of Turner's lyrics and the form of the songs. Each track on this album has its morphing lyrical moods complimented by wistful guitars, sultry bass, dreamy high backing vocals, magical (and new for the Monkeys) keyboard arpeggios and, of course, Turner's voice which, in most of the songs asides from 'Pretty Visitors', adopts a soft yet assertive and emotionally charged character.

In the first two Arctic Monkeys albums, Alex Turner was a lyricist. Now, he is a poet who has attained the subtle yet beautiful balance between profound meaning and evocative writing in his compositions. As continued in the follow up heartbreak tour-de-force 'Suck It and See', 'Humbug' manages to find new, deeper areas of human nature and experience to tap into, and describes them with such beautiful metaphors and penetrating insights.

'Humbug' is a very different album from the other Arctic Monkey's discography. Whether you have or haven't listened to any of their other records, this album may take some hard work and a few listens. Nevertheless, this heavy, deeply considered masterpiece is incredibly rewarding and is definitely worth a purchase. I hold no favourites amongst the 5 Monkeys albums to date, yet Humbug holds a special place in my heart.
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on 5 July 2013
Bah - (insert title here) Cant top first 2? - AM Go another Rout. Can U?
After a hectic day or two of Public Enemy and Sandie Shaw this can really bring it back together.
Allow AM to review and swagger. Try it but give it some time...
No immediate singles but several slow burners that get right to the grist'. I prefer not to dump on artists trying to expand their portfolio...
Listen without prejudice ? That was then this is now (2009) (enuff of other atristes) - this propels itself at a total change of tempo (not one pun in ten did c T Vine).
If u can take it- do. If not find something that does it for u. There's plenty of great music around from all sorts of British and world artists.
I recently found The Slits 1st album 1978 - I think as radical as the a's 1st... The Kinks their nearest observational peers...
The Artic' (along with Mr Sheeran N Jesse J) were the musical revelations of the Olympics. If you dont enjoy - find another that you do.
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on 15 September 2009
This time around the Monkeys have decided not to try and make `What Ever People Say I am...' again. That was an album that a band gets to make once and it should be left at that. The decision then to work with Josh Homme and James Ford was a very good idea. From the start you can see the results. `My Propeller' is dark and moody with subtle menace. First single `Crying Lightning' is then a plodding and intriguing track that grows into spitting venomous chorus. Yet through that Turner's pop sensibilities hold it up as something really good. Ironically the thing actually now feels like a dream or a nightmare with tracks like `Dangerous Animals', `Secret Door', `Fire and the Thud' and `Dance Little Liar'.

Ultimately everybody's influence on it is carefully balanced to create a coherent and original whole. It will be interesting to see what they do with the tracks live, but for now this is solid and promising from one of Britain's brightest hopes.
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on 30 August 2009
I was fortunate enough to receive a promo copy of the album several months ago, and for me (a massively obsessed fan of the Arctic Monkeys) this is in keeping with some of their best work, the reason I think some people don't seem to like it is that they've changed their style and their inspiration slightly, but like most bands they want to experiment if they had produced another album with identical stuff to WPSIATWIN or FWN then people would be annoyed because it would be way too similar, this way they mix things up, and they do still keep their uniqueness in many of the songs, the guitar melodies in secret door from Jamie Cook is very similar to that of Fluorescent Adolescents. The really avant-garde songs in this album in my opinion are ones such as Jeweler's Hands and Pretty Visitors, both of these songs work really well.

From this album there are a few shining gems, such as Cornerstone, My Propeller and Dangerous Animals.

Overall I think this is another huge success for the Monkeys, who knows what their next album will be like.....
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on 26 August 2009
Anyone looking for same again will be disappointed.

Arctic Monkeys are one of the best bands of the moment and look set to develop into one of the great rock bands.

Lyrically and musically strong. Not afraid to experiment. Cool. Great name. What more could you want? Oh yeah, they're also young and although you can tell that they have a good knowledge of rock and roll history, they're not beholden to it.

In 2006 Arctic Monkeys took a return ticket from Sheffield to somewhere. They haven't reached that mystery destination yet, but sure are enjoying the journey. I suggest that we, the listeners, grab a complimentary hot chocolate and join them.

ps - I bought Humbug on vinyl with the free Mp3 downloads - excellent, best of both worlds.
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on 27 August 2009
Any fears stoked that this is The Arctic Monkeys' sellout album; an attempt to smooth off their rough edges and thereby 'break America', (à la Kings of Leon's Only By The Night) can be put to bed. Humbug is an album of singularity equal to, although very different from, their first two records.

Musically, the combination of hard rock, post punk and Hammer Horror trappings has left them sounding something like the 80s Matchbox B Line Disaster to my ears, with a dash of math rock's structures and Josh Homme's own desert rock aesthetic thrown in to boot.

The band have also forgone the full tilt punk attack of their previous output in favour of steamroller tempos and dense arrangements that owe more to metal. Jamie Cook alternates between atmospheric, sustained guitar lines and a jabbing, tenacious attack, and the band also make creative use of creepy fairground organ and ghostly backing vocals. But it's Matt Helders who proves himself the star here; providing purpose to the slower burn numbers, holding the more complex songs together during their turn on a dime changes and sounding like he's trying to destroy his kit during the heaviest, most electrifying moments.

Curiously enough for such a self conciously heavy affair, Humbug also contains the band's two most gorgeous melodies to date in the form of Secret Door and Cornerstone, the latter a ballad reminiscent of Blur or The Smiths and therefore somewhat less of a curveball than the rest of the album.

The other big change here is in Alex Turner's lyrical style, which eschews the poetry of the everyday for straight up poetry; dense with metaphor and allusion. The boy meets girl subject matter remains essentially unchanged, but is here viewed through a filter of sexual obssession, celebrity and fantastical imagery. It's more Harmony Korine than Alan Bennett, but in a way gentler than 'Whatever' and 'Favourite'. The paparazzi stalked It girl of Secret Door, who you suspect would have come in for a kicking at the pen of Jarvis or Damon Albarn, is treated with surprising reverence. Those with an affection for Turner's barbed wit or everyman perspective may be a little disappointed as a result, but it's further indication of the band's willingness to push themselves and evolve.
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