100 for 2000 – #95. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2009 – #5. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
(Domino)

Arctic Monkeys have become one of my favourite bands, sneaking in with 2 (or 3, if you count Last Shadow Puppets) perfect records, year on year. And I struggle to think of another modern UK guitar band I even like. These guys are so far ahead of the pack that they are their own thing. But, like all great bands, they’ve moved on just as everyone else is catching up. Humbug is something new.

Alex Turner built his reputation on kitchen sink poetry (the title of their first album is a nod to Alan Sillitoe), but that clever detail is all but gone. It’s all metaphor and imagery. Drinking and fighting has been replaced by sex. All those tight, taut rhythms have gone to a more stoner rock place.

Sex is all over this record. My Propeller is pretty much Turner’s penis. On Dangerous Animals he screams “Let’s make a mess, lioness“. Potion Approaching he tells a girl that “Your’s is the only ocean that I want to swing from“. And the music suits it – huge and echo-y and groove heavy.

The masterpiece here is Crying Lightning. It hangs over the record in the way, say, Cortez the Killer hangs over Zuma. Maybe in 30 years, kids will pick up this album because it’s the one with Crying Lightning on it. It’s yet another ode of mysterious women who get what they want, with an impossible riff, a chorus sung three different ways. In fact, Turner has never sung this well.

Then there’s the ballad Cornerstone. Although it’s familiar ground to LSP stuff (or their own b-side Bakery), it’s Turner‘s best ballad yet. Full of darkness and drama, it’s some madness about a guy wanting to sleep with a girl, yet call her by her sister’s name.

It’s an album full of twisted sexual politics, murky morals and desperate characters. And I guess it was the year for it. I did a lot of drinking this year. And met some girls that did me no good. It’s not the devil, but the sad darkness in all of us, well I took a dip. And this album was playing when I did it.

It’s amazing the distance this band has travelled in just four years. I Bet That You Look Good On the Dancefloor sounds like the work of a different band.

Chances of another album this year seems unlikely. But 2011…lets see them change again.

Crying Lightning. I don’t see this leaving the setlist for many, many years to come.

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