Suck it and See by Arctic Monkeys album review

By Jared Ingham

Credit where it’s due. The Arctic Monkeys’ latest album, Suck It And Seeis a confident, focused and undeniably successful effort from a band who’ve blossomed in the warm glow of adulation. If the consensus is that they’re the best British guitar band of the day then, judging by the 12 songs here, there’s no compelling reason to disagree.

Ever since the release of first album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not in 2006which sold an astonishing 360,000 copies in its first week, the Arctic Monkeys have been a hugely successful global act. Whilst 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare raised expectations about how mighty the scale of the band’s long-term legacy might be, 2009’s Humbug was considered by many, somewhat unfairly, as a let-down.

Looking back at the previous three albums, Suck It And See stands apart for its nuance and deftness however, and fans miffed at the more leftfield approach of Humbug shouldn’t hesitate about returning to the fold. A large part of the Arctic Monkey’s appeal stems from the way they’ve managed to create a sound that’s distinctive, modern and authentic all at once. Right at the start of their careers the band-members set out their stall, making it clear that they were what they were, and were all the better for it. A

couple of lines from ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’ capture the sentiment: “You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham. So get off the bandwagon, and put down the handbook.” This is a band who know what they’re about, even if Alex Turner‘s no longer singing about chasing the local slags on drunken nights out in Sheffield. Add Turner’s wit and a healthy respect for their audience, demonstrated by a disciplined avoidance of any self-indulgent forays away from what they do best, and you have a recipe for something you want more of.

‘She’s Thunderstorms’ shows, straight off, the slower and softer approach to many of the songs. Nothing wrong with that though. Melody’s the key and, like the rest of the slow-burners, there’s enough of it here to keep all but the worst judges of songwriting talent happy. Turner’s voice could be louder, but that’s a quibble. That and ‘Black Treacle’ have a smoothness largely absent from the earlier albums and it’s welcome. The third song, retro ‘Brick By Brick’, could be a Kinks cover. Rumbling and raucous, it’s an enjoyable beat-band stomp and one of the album’s stand-outs.

Later on, trippy and psychedelic ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, spiced up nicely with a tasty heavy guitar riff throughout, is one of the best tunes. ‘All My Own Stunts’ is another worth a mention in dispatches, for its winning combination of melody and menace. As for the rest, you won’t find a ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’, but ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’, ‘Library Pictures’, ‘Reckless Serenade’, ‘Piledriver Waltz’, ‘Love is a Laserquest’, ‘Suck It and See’ and ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ do the business.

Even on the more subdued efforts, like ‘Love Is A Laserquest’, because so much effort has been given to saying what needs saying in the shortest time possible, the album canters along successfully. Turner’s lyrics sparkle and interest, adding another layer of charm. On ‘Suck It And See’ he pines “You’re rarer than a can of dandelion and burdock, and those other girls are just post-mix lemonade”.

Clearly any man who understands the underappreciated benefits of dandelion and burdock knows the score. Overall then, a really decent album from a band exceeding high expectations. Thank God the Arctic Monkeys have avoided the Kings of Leon’s tedious and disappointing decline into pretention and gloom. Unlike them there’s promise of further improvement.

If they continue to iron out rough edges, add the appropriate level of polish, but keep the funkiness that made fans love them in the first place, then the future looks rosy. For non-fans, Suck It And See is a good introduction to the band. For anybody partly responsible for Jessie J’s Who You Are hovering in a higher place in the album chart, it’s a valuable opportunity to listen to decent new music and to then reflect upon whether you should be banned, by law, from buying music ever again.

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