Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See
With their last release splitting opinion everywhere, including within the Music Fix control room, it was hard to see exactly where Arctic Monkeys were going to go with their next effort. Would they delve deeper into the murky world of psychedelic rock of Humbug and risk alienating a certain section of their original fans further? Or settle back into the indie rock of their debut after having their experimental fingers burned? Fortunately Suck It And See finds the band doing neither and instead focussing on developing their sound - without forgetting what got them there in the first place. Playing out like a greatest hits collection of completely original material (barring the appearance of full band version of Submarine EP track 'Piledriver Waltz'), Suck It And See appropriately provides fans with tasters of what was once, and a promising look at what is yet to come.
From the ‘View From The Afternoon’ rolling drums of ‘Library Pictures’ to the ‘Potion Approaching’-esque guitars of ‘All My Own Stunts’ (not to mention the lyrical nod to ‘Dancing Shoes’), you can see the roots of each track embedded in previous Arctics records but what’s clear is that they’ve not stood still and have honed their craft. Lead single ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved You Chair’ is one of the best things they’ve ever produced, with its superb dirty bass hook and memorable lyrics (“Find a well-known hard man and start a fight / Wear your shellsuit on bonfire night”) combining the best of Whatever People Say I Am… and Humbug.
Lyrically, Turner is back on form, with the title track a particular highlight. For those that bemoaned the lack of sharp lyrics on Humbug, ‘Suck It And See’ leans back on the honest, down-to-earth tone that formed the backbone of their debut. Following in the likes of ‘Cornerstone’ and ‘505’, it’s this album’s stand-out love song: “I poured my aching heart into a pop song / I couldn’t get the hang of poetry / That’s not a skirt girl, that’s a sawn off shotgun / And I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me”. Notable lyrical mentions also have to go to ‘Black Treacle’ (“Somebody told the stars, you’re not coming out tonight / So they found a place to hide”) and ‘Reckless Serenade’ (“Those twinkling vixens with the shining spiral eyes / Their hypnosis goes unnoticed when she’s walking by”).
However, it’s worth noting though that Suck It And See certainly lacks the immediacy of their first two efforts, much like Humbug did, and probably won’t sate anyone after an instant fix. ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ and ‘Black Treacle’ sound like single material to these ears but the main focus is on creating a collection of tracks that complement each other, which is why we get a build up to a rock-out middle third, culminating in the excellent ‘All My Own Stunts’ with the album’s best guitar riff, before a mellower final third provides a welcome contrast to what has come before. It may take a couple of spins to fully grow on you but, to paraphrase Alex Turner on the album’s opener ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, it will be loop-the-looping around your head come the third or fourth spin.
It’s another sign of the band’s continuing maturity that they haven’t just gone for the easy option after the mixed response to Humbug as the temptation would surely have been there to create a hook-friendly, straightforward indie rock album. Instead they’ve chosen to grow organically as a band, taking in everything that has gone right or wrong before and developing on it. Suck It And See is Humbug with stronger direction and focus; Whatever People Say I Am… with added variation; Favourite Worst Nightmare without the filler (‘The Bad Thing’ and ‘Only Ones Who Know’ anyone?) General opinion is that Arctic Monkeys have never quite matched the exciting highs of their debut but Suck It And See isn’t just their best since their debut – it’s their best yet.