Arctic Monkeys were the biggest English buzz band five years ago and now they are a reliable entity as far as releasing a couple good singles and not stocking up their album with too much filler goes. Then again, I think this is their worst album. And again, not that it's bad, just not as good as their first two.
But there are about five really good songs--"My Propeller," "Crying Lightning," "Potion Approaching," "The Fire and Thud," and "Cornerstone,"--which is probably more than you can say for any previous album. There was speculation that Humbug would be their "stoner rock" album, since Josh Homme produced it in the desert of California. It may sound like that during about three different parts on the album, but it sounds more just like the Arctic Monkeys growing up.
Their sound has definitely matured, and on tracks like "Crying Lightning," it is enhanced. But "Cornerstone" (though listed as a "really good song") is kind of boring, and is only great for its lyrics, which is about finding lookalikes of a lost lover and asking if you can call them by the wrong name.
So basically, same problem with the New Pornographers and Broken Social Scene (though Arctic Monkeys are about 1/5 as "mellow"), the new album just doesn't have a lot of songs like "Brianstorm" or "D is for Dangerous" or "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" or "From the Ritz to the Rubble." Its songs sound more like "Do Me a Favour"--which was a great song off Favourite Worst Nightmare--but which gets a bit tiresome without much variety surrounding.
I guess I am being picky. Humbug is their "stoner rock" album and it is cool that they worked with Josh Homme, and it's totally possible that the Monkeys will continue on in this direction and put out their next album which doesn't make too many changes. Overall, I am not upset that I bought it, but find it to be somewhat unremarkable. So maybe you can understand why this is such a short post. I didn't even care about writing it in the first place.
In comparison with their Domino labelmates, Humbug is better than Hidden (not as immaculate, but more immediate), but not as good as Your Future Our Clutter.