The four boys from Sheffield are back to perform their own stunts with the controversially titled Suck It And See (is it not hilarious that it’s controversial?). I’ve heard it’s a summer album, it’s whimsical, it’s a departure from the desert rock of Humbug - it’s some of all of that…and more.
From beginning to end Suck It And See is every bit Arctic Monkeys. The tracks are tongue-in-cheek, clever and recognizable; underneath the surface is where the band has really changed their approach. Humbug was dense and dramatic, a haze and guitar filled odyssey into something darker and possibly obtuse. The fourth album is something you can put your arms around. Arctic Monkeys have never been known for producing instantly catchy songs – in fact I could only really give you a track or three that would fit that bill, “Fluorescent Adolescent” chief amongst them. Suck It And See is stuffed full of this type of track, sing-a-long friendly and immediate, the kind of thing that is so far from their previous effort it’s amazing that they were produced by the same group.
“She’s Thunderstorms” channels some serious Green Day (sorry Green Day haters – look up “Last Of The American Girls” and tell me you don’t see the similarity) and honestly, I wonder why they’ve not traveled this route before. “She’s Thunderstorms” is not my favorite track on the album, but when letting my friends hear the new album for the first time it was the track they remembered. “Black Treacle” is a beautiful Arctic Monkeys track combined with the nonsensical wordplay that Alex Turner fell in love with while writing Humbug, and well, I think we all know “Brick By Brick” by now. These first three track make a statement; accessibility. Matt Helders said this album was poppier, and poppier it is.
“Library Pictures” gains a certain madness live that I feel it misses in studio, “Da Frame 2R” crossed with a bit of “Nettles”. “All My Own Stunts” is as close as the band ventures to the hazy rock that preceded them, and I feel this track could’ve been at home as a b-side to any Humbug era single. That’s not to say it’s not worthy of Suck It And See - if anything it’s the right combination that they could never find. Smokey desert rock that actually has a bit of focus and a little pop to it.
“Reckless Serenade”, “Love Is A Laserquest”, and the title track are excellent album tracks with only the former having true standout quality. Turner and co. found a groove in this stretch and this end of the album has a more streamlined feel – it fits together tightly, whereas the first half jumps a bit through various styles and tempos. The album’s true gem is saved for last – “That’s Where You’re Wrong”. Bouncing back with a little bit of soul, the song is absolutely complete. It has been some time since we’ve had a track from Arctic Monkeys that is as beautiful as it is poppy, immediately singable and yet easily recognizable as a true work of art. The bassline driving this song (and really, the entire album) is amazing, and the guitars remind me a bit of the stratospheric sounds that The Edge produces – clear as a bell – you can feel them in your soul.
Again, if I had to describe this album in one word I’d say accessible. The songs are tightly crafted, they are softer yet still full of longing. Lyrically, I feel that there has been a huge improvement and sonically it is a cut above Humbug. On “Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”, Turner says, “I took the batteries out my mysticism and put them in my thinking cap” – a statement that I find as direct as WYSIATWIN ever was. The band realized that while they were proud of Humbug, there might have a been a little fire in all that smoke they caught about being over-indulgent. They put their thinking caps on and delivered us this makeup gift, their third superb album.