The Arctic Monkeys are trying too hard to be the world's greatest rock band.
An enormous buzz surrounded their 2006 debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not. The snide, sexy and punkish attitude of tracks like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" brimmed with adrenaline and the raw, unfiltered energy of youth.
It was a tough act to follow.
Humbug finds the Arctic Monkeys reaching for a darker, more brooding rock sound akin to Green Day's American Idiot. The angry hard-rock riff that fuels "Dangerous Animal" finds Alex Turner losing the battle to fight off an oppressive attraction.
It's a theme that continues on the album's first single, "Crying Lightning." Here, the riff grows bewildered and mysterious as Turner wades through the mind games of the object of his affection.
Despite the technical success of the production, the tracks are as staid and unmemorable as "Crying Lightning"'s mechanical tempo. Humbug is a sonic disconnect between who the Arctic Monkeys really are and who they're trying to be.