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Album Review
Suck It And See

Suck It And See
by Arctic Monkeys


Review Date
24th July, 2011
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

Arctic Monkeys have always had a lot to live up to. At the beginning it was translating their ‘biggest band’ status in the online world to the real world, then it was following up hit single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' – the track that arguably ‘broke’ them– with the substantive album a band of this popularity needs to deliver to maintain.

Following debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I’m Not, Alex Turner and company had to prove that they could take their Brit pop roots into new - at least vaguely unexplored - territory, and by all extents and purposes, they did. Favourite Worst Nightmare, helmed by James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) was comparatively assaulting, with single ‘Brianstorm’ forcing the band back into public conscious with relentless drumming from Matt Helders cementing a swirling commentary on an appropriately slick gentleman. They relocated to California and enlisted Josh Homme for Humbug and while notably more gravelly and rough around the edges, it just screamed ‘QOTSA does Arctic Monkeys’. You can almost touch that flame coloured hair with every guitar solo, single ‘Crying Lightening’ included.

Front man Alex Turner’s ability to articulate the condition of English youth has always been the lynch pin of Arctic Monkeys and cemented their position as part of a lineage of equally as evocative songwriters. Between Humbug and Suck it and See Turner has been further developing this storytelling skill through cinematic side project Last Shadow Puppets and with actual cinema, writing the soundtrack for English indie – and Cannes favourite - Submarine. With Suck it and See, Turner has applied the lighter touch gained from such experience to a band who, while still hell bent on hammering home their message, are prepared to give Turner’s worthsmithing the space and company it deserves. As a result, Suck it and See suggests a new chapter in the Arctic Monkeys story; a band utilizing the new found maturity each member is undoubtedly beginning to explore.

Take ‘Brick by Brick’ for example. The majority of the track is stomping, static drumming and searing guitar solos, but by imbuing it with the occasional back-up vocal and a time signature change half way through that sees Turner at his slurred, suggestive best, the band have turned what could have been a three-and-a-half minute Oasis throwback into a New Arctic Monkeys track.

Lyrically Turner still gives little away, filling each song with cryptic messages of lost nights spent chasing lost loves but this has always been the case. His ability to capture the conscience of a generation with sleights of tongue has always been their trump card and on Suck it and See, these references abound. Take ‘Hellcat Spangled Shalala’ for instance. Lines like ‘She flips a red hot revelation, off the tip off her tongue’ nestle into a simple, funk-oriented bass line and explode into a chorus of accompanying guitars; musicality and lyricism in tune delivering the same message in simultaneous, alternative mediums.

Suck it and See still wears the working man on its blue sleeve, but has refracted it through savvier lineage than before. The slick and appropriately titled ‘Black Treacle’ (with lines like ‘Someone told the stars you weren’t coming out tonight / So they found a place to hide’) and ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ could slip onto This is Hardcore while the heavier, more on-the-nose tracks – ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘cause I’ve Moved your Chair’ – still have more in common with the deft touch of I Should Coco than some of the Brit pop affiliations Arctic Monkeys have previously courted.

When Turner says ‘I’m getting older but I don’t feel any wiser’ on ‘Black Treacle’ he’s either being facetious (probably) or seriously underestimates his progress.


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