On the title of a 2006 EP, these Sheffield boys asked the question Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys? They were being a bit ironic, we can only presume, considering you’d need to have been hiding in a subterranean bunker, wearing earmuffs and a thick blindfold, to have missed their hella-hyped single from the year before, ‘I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, a singalongy, heavily accented Northern tale of longing for a frozen shouldered girl.
Four years on and they’re back, touring their third album Humbug, a slightly less ‘down to earth’ take on their cheeky rock’n’roll formula, where they’re happy to trip out a bit and explore the proggier side of their sound. Recorded in producer Josh ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ Homme’s desert-based studio in the legendary Joshua Tree, California, Humbug is a more complex and confident, noisier, garage rock update on the pally indie trademark guitar jangle they started out with.
The lyrics on single ‘Fire and Thud’ come from the heart, and speak of 23-year-old Alex Turner’s painful reaction to the news that his girlfriend – the very delightful leggy telly girl Alexa Chung – was moving to New York for a big MTV gig. Yorkshire’s loss was Brooklyn’s gain, though, as a (now longer haired) Turner followed her out there.
For fans, who latched on to the band’s word-of-mouth appeal after they did lots of small-scale secret gigs in pubs – and drew fans as diverse as Harmony Korine and Samantha Morton – the sight of Sheffield’s ‘anti-rock’ stars on stage at the SECC might confirm their worst fears; somewhere along the road from Northern England, the lads might just have morphed into actual rock stars.
SECC, Glasgow, Tue 24 Nov