Music Reviews
Suck It And See

Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See

(Domino) Rating - 9/10

Big bands are depressing, aren’t they? With track records, and popular followings, and publicity comes all that stuff that soon inevitably seems to follow. As so often happens, when reality finally decides to urinate loudly upon our quiet expectations, the faithful cheers with which we commend our champions finally and pitifully die to lifeless whimpers. The real problem is that we then tend to pick our brutalised hopes up off the floor and persuade ourselves that ‘it’s ok’; ‘it’s not that bad’; and ‘maybe next time’. Well thankfully there remains one band still able to proudly stick two fingers up at any impending regression to the mean: The Arctic Monkeys have slipped contentedly in recent years out of the fleeting limelight of popular applause and into the well earned spotlight of critical acclaim.

As well as their penchant for thinly veiled sexual references, Suck It And See perpetuates the fantastical and highly figurative nature of their last two records. “Fantastical?... Highly Figurative?!” I can already picture your tormented cries and pained expressions; if I may reassure those who didn’t ‘get’ Humbug, the song writing on this album is for the most part more transparent, but it is also a satisfying confirmation that we won’t be seeing a repeat of Whatever people say... any time soon. This record lends more weight to the view that the band, with the greatest respect, couldn’t give a fucking Shalala about the opinions some have over the direction taken since 2007, and given that they’ve now produced four excellent records on the trot, why would they?

Much like, and indeed borrowing from, the recent soundtrack to Submarine, Suck It And See mostly delivers the more melodic brand of rock that we first heard on Humbug; in that vein it’s at first a little underwhelming, relying on subtler grooves than one might have expected. The opener, She’s Thunderstorms, is a prime example as with languid tones and that winding Sheffield tongue Turner delivers lines like “She’s been loop-the-looping / around my mind” with a wonderfully consummate ease. Black Treacle performs a similar trick but before the record settles the track listing runs into Brick By Brick, a powerfully built Queens of The Stone Age tribute if there ever was one. It’s clear evidence of Josh Homme’s quite significant influence on the band since working on their last record, and several songs here, including Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair and Library Pictures, carry just his kind of hallmark.

Fortunately, however, this album never tumbles headlong towards becoming a copycat record, although it does begin to go through the motions. As already alluded to the lower order instead recalls the EP written by Alex Turner for the British independent film, Submarine. Piledriver Waltz is the only song to survive from that and alongside the likes of Reckless Serenade and That’s Where You’re Wrong it exemplifies the sort of exquisite balladry that Turner has all but entirely mastered. The title track typifies this, throwing out similes like “Your love is like a can of dandelion burdock / and those other girls are just post-mix lemonade.” Lines like that of course only invite accusations of pretentious pseudo-poetry, where once this was a band concerned with packaging up the nights, fights and delights of their hometown into razorblade witticisms and angular riffs. However, the album that has resulted is so different that it is a futile exercise in relating the band we find today with the band of 2006. What is clear is that the Arctic Monkeys of 2011 have produced, probably by a significant margin, the best British Rock 'n' Roll album you will hear this year, and on top of that there’s the comforting sense that Suck It And See will only age well... I believe that’s something of a result then.