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.
- 2 Release
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Track listing
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Charts and certifications
- 7 Release history
- 8 References
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. Tracks were written through the end of 2008, with recording taking place around the band's touring schedule towards late 2008 and early 2009.
Co-produced by Josh Homme, 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, 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. 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. 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.
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" 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.
|The A.V. Club||C+|
Humbug received mostly positive reviews from critics, with many praising the band's newfound maturity. Billboard stated that the band "justif[ies] the hype by shifting its best qualities into different, equally dazzling shapes," 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." 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." 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."
All lyrics written by Alex Turner, all music composed by Arctic Monkeys.
|6.||"Fire and the Thud"||3:57|
|8.||"Dance Little Liar"||4:43|
|10.||"The Jeweller's Hands"||5:42|
|[show]iTunes bonus track|
|[show]Japanese bonus tracks|
|Preceded by||UK Albums Chart number-one album
30 August 2009 – 12 September 2009
|Japan||19 August 2009|
|Australia||21 August 2009|
|United Kingdom||24 August 2009|
|Canada||25 August 2009|
|Finland||26 August 2009|
|Italy||28 August 2009|
|Greece||31 August 2009|