Frontman Alex Turner must have known that putting out a third album of snarly Brit indie tunes recooked on the winning formula of their debut would ensure a quick trip to irrelevancy. So he and the lads put their trust in Queens of the Stone Age heavyweight Josh Homme to help craft a record that, though not completely successful, frequently surprises, takes chances and demands further listens.
Humbug's reverb-heavy guitars and moody atmosphere might put off Arctic fans yearning for more direct, catchy When The Sun Goes Down-type fare. Instead, the Monkeys do glitter-era Bowie on Secret Door and acid-in-the-desert Homme rock on Potion Approaching. It doesn't always fly - Pretty Visitors' confused arrangements are a prime example - but at least Humbug challenges the band's proven blueprint and makes us wonder what they'll try next.
Top track: Secret Door
The Arctic Monkeys climb into Kool Haus September 29.