Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
After riding the massive hype wave of their first two albums all the way to the arenas, the Arctic Monkeys took a bit of a detour with third album Humbug – swapping the sing-along choruses and crowd pleasing riffs for an altogether denser and less accessible affair. Typically for the Monkeys, it still sold by the shed-load – but it didn’t dominate the musical landscape as much as its predecessors and its accompanying festival appearances left fans a bit bemused.
As they say, though, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and after listening to Suck It And See, Humbug sounds less like a shaggy haired, stoner-rock career misstep and more like a necessary stage in the Arctic Monkeys career. Alex Turner has been vocal about feeling uncomfortable with all the hype surrounding their glittering early career, so Humbug now looks like a smart slate wiper which has allowed them to shed the high expectations and concentrate on doing what they do best – and on Suck It And See they don’t waste the chance.
Album opener ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ lifts the lid on their welcome rediscovering of classic and accessible song structures with its inviting guitar intro and Turner’s softly crooned verses all building to a thunderous chorus. It’s the kind of curtain-raiser Arctic Monkeys fans have been crying out for and heralds a return to the universal approach that made them the most exciting band in the country.
‘Black Treacle’ and ‘Brick By Brick’ keep the solid start going, before Suck It And See‘s first stand-out moment comes in the form of the majestic ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’, whose oddball title belies the precision-crafted pop behind it. Shimmering into life with a Coral-esque melodic intro, it slides along Nick O’Malley’s languid bassline before careering into one of Turner’s best choruses (a bold statement, we know). It also boasts Turner’s trademark realist lyrics, which paint a rich, vivid and poetic picture of a lovers tiff. “Just when things are getting complicated / In the eye of the storm / She flicks a red-hot revelation / Off the tip of her tongue / It does a dozen somersaults and it leaves you supercharged / Makes me wanna blow the candles out / Just to see if you glow in the dark”.
The lyrical flair continues on the albums first single, ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair‘ – which sees Turner basically turn a list of things that aren’t advisable into a vital sounding rock song: “Break a mirror… Run with scissors… Find a well-known hard man and start a fight… Wear your shellsuit on bonfire night” etc… On ‘All My Own Stunts’, he somehow manages to turn a morose and personal moment of self-reflection into a proper arena sing-along: “Been watching cowboy films / On gloomy afternoons… Put on your dancing shoes / And show me what to do / I know you’ve got the moves”. It’s another of the albums attention grabbing highlights, and along with the brilliant ‘Reckless Serenade’ and ‘Piledriver Waltz’, forms the tonal centrepiece of Suck It And See.
That ‘tone’ is what makes Suck It And See such a surprising album. We all knew the Arctic Monkeys were special, but now they’ve grown up and moved on from the unnecessary hype they’ve been able to put together an album that doesn’t have to rely on the party-starting riffs of old. Instead, Suck It And See goes for a more mature and accomplished song-writing tone – and ends up being the Arctic Monkeys best album yet.
This becomes clear during the albums final two songs. The title track maintains Turner’s sharp and insightful real-life poetry (‘You’re rarer than a can of Dandelion and Burdock’) while introducing Roses-esque sonics – which album closer ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ builds on to reach a stunning crescendo. It’s a two song burst that Arctic Monkeys fans wouldn’t have thought possible a couple of years ago and marks the evolution of the worlds most exciting band into simply one of the worlds best.