TO ALL YOU ARCTIC MONKEYS FANS
We have a theory about the album Humbug (2009). You know how the whole album he is talking about some girl? This isn’t just some girl. She was his girlfriend that died, and through the whole album he tells a story of his slow decent into insanity. Not to mention, not anybody would just go actually crazy and be that hung up on her like he does. How he is acting is as if something frequent and traumatic happened.
The first song “My Propeller,” is about when she first dies and without her, he is unable to cope with her death and he starts going crazy. When he sings “My propeller wont spin and I can’t get it started on my own,” he is stating his brain (propeller), won’t function on it’s own and he needs something to get it started. What could get it started could be the memory of her, or it could be certain meds/help he is receiving to help get his brain to start acting normally. He also sings “When are you arriving? Oh, my propeller.” He wants to see her again and she’s the only thing to get his propellor spinning; and that is why he would be having hallucinations about her.
The next song on this album is “Crying Lightning.” The very first thing that is sung is “Outside the cafe by the cracker factory you were practicing a magic trick.” First of all, this line is very specific. This may be a place that reminded him of her, and that’s why he is seeing her there. He also see’s her practicing a magic trick, and that may be her fading in and out of his life, or if he is going insane he could be seeing anything. Another line in this song that got me thinking is “your pastimes consisted of the strange and twisted and deranged.” This could be open to a couple interpretations. First, that how she passed away was twisted and deranged. Not to mention he is mentioning her in past tense. Another interpretation is that now that she is gone, his visions of her now are twisted and deranged. The last line in the song refers to her in past tense as well, and it shows his emotions of this whole trauma. “And I hate that little game you had called, crying.”
Third up is “Dangerous Animals.” The tone of this song is fast pace and angry, and the tone of each song represents how he is feeling through these songs (his journey). “Been fighting with my sheets and nearly crying in my sleep.” He is starting to lose sleep because of these visions and thoughts he is having, and he is getting angry because that is physically and emotionally draining. He also states “I’m pinned down by the dark,” which could be him saying that his mind is taken over with these dark thoughts by the dark events that have happened to him. He could also feel like something is acting pinning him down, while he is struggling to find sanity.
This next song is one of my personal favorites on this album. “Secret Door” is the fourth song in and has a complete different tone than the first three songs. This song is more mellow, and gives off a relaxed, whimsical vibe. “She swam out of tonights phantasm grabbed my hand, and made it very clear; there’s absolutely nothing for us here.” Now first of all, the definition of phantasm is a figment of imagination; an illusion or apparition. This is obviously him seeing her, while she is a figment of his imagination. This figment of his imagination is putting thoughts into his head and he is thinking it is her. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the word phantasm was used to represent her. “And the secret door swings behind us she’s saying nothing, she’s just giggling along. Even if they were to find us, I wouldn’t notice, I’m completely occupied.” Obviously he wouldn’t notice, he is living in this world his mind created which he thinks is his reality.
Number five on the list is “Potion Approaching.” By the name of this song, it could mean that the potion approaching is the meds and help they are going to give him because this insanity is getting out of hand. Or, it could mean he is taking some sort of drugs to enhance his visions, or maybe to try and forget about her. “I’ve got this ego mechanic she’s always trying to give me vitamins.” This lady could be a therapist, or someone intervening to help him. These vitamins could be medicine to try and help him.
The next song on this album is “Fire and the Thud.” This song explains how he is seeing her everywhere he goes now and he has no control over it. He is seeing her in every single little thing that is around him. “and now you’re hiding in my soup, and this book reveals your face, and you’re splashing in my eyelids.” These are just some examples of where he is seeing her. He is also singing the song like he is addressing her, and is telling her what she is doing to him. He also tells her “I hear your voice in silences.” They are just rubbing it in your face at this point. The stereotypical symptom of insanity is hearing voices and seeing things that actually aren’t there. The more in depth we get in the album, the worse his condition is.
My all time favorite song that actually got me thinking about this theory is “Cornerstone.” Throughout the song, it’s a mini story of him thinking he is seeing her at different bars and places around town. “I thought I saw you at the Battleship, but it was only a look alike. She was nothing but a vision trick under the warning light, she was close, close enough to be your ghost and my chances turned to toast when I asked her if I could call her your name.” This song is a series of rejections he gets when he finds a girl that looks like her to let him forget what happened for a minute. When he says “close enough to be your ghost,” it’s no coincidence. What he sees of her is like a ghost, non-existent and not thought about. He then goes on to say “I smelt your scent on the seat belt and kept my shortcut to myself.” When he is smelling that specific sent, he doesn’t want to get home quicker because once he is home and out of that car, he will fear he will start to forget about her and he wants to think of her as much as possible. He also says throughout the song “I’m worried I’ll forget your face.” Well duh, he can’t let go. In the very end of the song, he see’s her sister at the Cornerstone. The Cornerstone can represent a psychiatric hospital, and he himself is finally admitted, and when he see’s her sister it’s because she was so upset by her sister’s death, she had to be admitted too. Well what kind of death caused such trauma in two people? We will discover that soon! “I saw your sister in the Cornerstone on the phone to the middle man, when I saw that she was on her own I thought she might understand; she was close, well you couldn’t get much closer she said ‘I’m really not supposed to but yes, you can call me anything you want.” She is allowing him to call her whatever he wants, because they are both going through the same thing and they can help each other because they are the only ones who understand what they are going through. She says “I’m really not supposed to” as in she wouldn’t want to betray her dead sister, but at the same time both of them need each other to get through this trauma.
Now we move onto “Dance Little Liar.” My interpretation of this album, is that he is now realizing all these visions he has had of her were all made up and he now see’s her as a liar because all of his hopes of being with her again are torn up. “I heard the truth was built to bend.” He could be saying that the truth is possible to be distorted by people’s minds. “You’ll breathe and then proceed to scratch the varnish off that newly added calmness.” As he is realizing this is in his head, he will still go back to her if he sees her again. He has a new calmness because of the help he is getting, but when she appears again that calmness is ruined and taken away.
Second to last is “Pretty Visitors.” I believe this song is how we find out how his girlfriend died. “Your leg starts running and your head gets caught.” Maybe she got killed, and when she started to try to run from these people, the fear or maybe some drug took over her and she was unable to escape. “Gagged, bound and crafting a tale trailing wrapped in a gasp. Cruelly with the base and the scales.” This could show how she was tied up and killed there. This would make sense that her death effected two people’s lives that great, because she died in such a horrible way it was traumatic, and her boyfriend and sister will live with guilt for the rest of their lives because they thought they should’ve been able to help her; and that is why they have lost their minds completely.
The final song on this album is “The Jeweller’s Hand.” In the end of the song, he says “I’m sinking in until you return.” He is realizing he will never be the same person again, unless he was reunited with her. He knows that that won’t happen, but at the same time still holds onto a glimmer of hope. “Without the last corner piece, I can’t calibrate.” Here is another example of him admitting that he can’t function normally without her. This whole song is a realization that he needs her in his life, and he won’t ever be the same without her and he is starting to accept that.
The progression of this album shows that my theory may be legit. Even though this album is left open to interpretation, I stand by this. I have listened to this album for five years now and the more I listen the more it all comes together. Sorry for the long ass post I really got into that