The band’s fourth album refines the approach of 2009’s Humbug, which was already shockingly refined: Out went spiky punk and rapid-fire words, in came a sophisticated sense of melody and arrangement. Anyone who pegged those changes to Humbug co-producer Josh Homme can forget it: He’s largely absent here (save for one guest vocal), and the ambitions run even wilder, evoking classic Britpop one minute, garage rock the next, but always with a twist — mainly via Alex Turner’s lyrics, which remain full of sharp observations and witty references. (The single “Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” is the best song to mention the macarena since, well, “Macarena.”) The album threatens to get too midtempo in the second half, but all of the tunes are strong enough to be here. Indeed, when the Monkeys sound like their old selves (on the frantic bits of the slow-to-fast “Library Pictures”), it sounds like they’re referencing another band.
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