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.


 [hide*1 Writing and recording

Writing and recording[edit]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 fewguitar 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 HendrixCreamJake ThackrayJohn CaleNick CaveRoky Erickson, and The Beatles were all major influences on the recording of the album.


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]Edit

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

All lyrics written by Alex Turner, all music composed by Arctic Monkeys.

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


Arctic Monkeys
  • Alex Turner – lead and backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards (tracks 3, 6, 8, 9 and 10), xylophone (tracks 3, 5 and 6)
  • Jamie Cook – lead and rhythm guitar, baritone guitar (track 1)
  • Nick O'Malley – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Matt Helders – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Additional musicians
  • Josh Homme – backing vocals (tracks 3, 5, 10 and 11),[26] glockenspiel (track 10)[18]
  • Alison Mosshart – backing vocals (track 6)[27]
  • John Ashton – backing vocals (tracks 1 and 2), keyboards (tracks 1, 2 and 7)
Technical personnel
  • Josh Homme – production (except tracks 1, 4, 7 and 11)
  • James Ford – production (tracks 1, 4, 7 and 11)

Charts and certifications[edit]Edit

Weekly charts[edit]Edit

Charts (2009) Peak


Australian Albums (ARIA)[28] 2
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[29] 7
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[30] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[31] 4
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[32] 6
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[33] 4
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[34] 2
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[35] 11
French Albums (SNEP)[36] 2
German Albums (Official Top 100)[37] 4
Greek Albums (IFPI)[38] 17
Irish Albums (IRMA)[39] 1
Italian Albums (FIMI)[40] 17
Japanese Albums (Oricon) 3
Mexican Albums (Top 100 Mexico)[41] 23
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[42] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[43] 7
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[44] 49
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[45] 7
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[46] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[47] 12
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[48] 7
UK Albums (OCC)[49] 1
US Billboard 200[50] 15
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[51] 1
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[52] 4


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[53] Platinum 300,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Chart procession and succession[edit]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]Edit

Country Date
Japan 19 August 2009
Australia 21 August 2009
United Kingdom 24 August 2009
Canada 25 August 2009
United States
Finland 26 August 2009
Italy 28 August 2009
Greece 31 August 2009
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