jason stives reviews the latest album from British rockers Arctic Monkeys …
It’s hard to believe that in just seven years, Sheffield, England’s Arctic Monkeys have seen a success that most bands only dream of, garnering three critically and commercially successful albums, half a dozen Top 10 hits in their native country, and a constantly changing creative output that has given them many accolades. But the best part is the fame has never gotten to the bands’ heads and the fear of giving the fans what they expect has never flustered them. While their 2009 release Humbug, was a creative leap forward, it shunned and, at times, worried many fans of the band’s insistence on altering their sound, abandoning the style that made their first two albums successful in favor of a more brooding psych rock vibe.
Changing gears once again comes the band’s fourth album, Suck It And See, an unabashed statement to detractors questioning the Monkeys’ pension for keeping their style consistent but doing what most acts fail to do, and that’s mature without fear of alienation. Beginning with “She’s Thunderstorms,” singer Alex Turner fights to find the right expression of an indefinable girl, amplified by Jamie Cook’s quizative guitar licks and Turner’s dreamscape vocals. Clearly Alex Turner has been having the same psychedelic visions that he had while writing the tracks on Humbug, except this time the tunes are melancholic and thumping continuously with the reliable rhythm section of bassist Nick O’ Malley and drummer Matt Helders.
It’s hard to believe the band has just hit their mid-20s stride, but instead of meandering in immaturity in their song style, Suck It And See embraces all styles and tinkers with the heart of current pop music by being spiteful, lovable, and sarcastic to the laughing box of radio fanfare. On a track like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” the band expels a Black Sabbath macabre, bringing an unexpected heaviness to their sound while under the friendly skies of Jamie Cook’s sonic guitar work, which as always, keeps getting progressively better with each effort.
The only track that comes close to resembling the Arctic Monkeys of old is “Library Pictures,” a blistering roar of noise that peels the paint off the walls and breaks the fine china. Here Turner expels his soft kisses- like voice to blast the microphone with nostalgia not heard in his youthful voice since the days of “Fake Tales Of San Francisco.” The game changing nature of the song is noted as Turner smirks “you look as if you’ve all forgotten/where you’ve been,” showing exactly the place he wants the listener to be at mid album. The centerpiece of the album is “Reckless Serenade,” a song questioning the intent of man’s desire for love and lust, jumping between staring at the glamorous models and asking the unresponsive conscious for help, all under O’ Malley’s slick “Sweet Jane” like bassline.
It wouldn’t be unwarranted to claim the lyrical content of Suck It And See to be pure bollocks, but Alex Turner as a lyricist has never been one to be a profound storyteller, opting to tell things as he sees it in an overblown imaginative projection. He always fines correlation in the most insane imagery as displayed in the track “Piledriver Waltz” where he envisions an unhappy ending feeling like the most paralyzing of wrestling moves.
Maybe Turner is right in the track “Love Is A Laserquest,” when he claims that he has “nothing to dream about,” as clearly the Arctic Monkey’s don’t dream of a bigger success, just a greater creative output, and maybe fans shouldn’t dream too hard for something resembling Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. At 25, the boys of Northern England have had quite the progression and have accomplished more commercially and creatively then most bands will see in their lifetime. Suck It And See is sexy piece of pop allure disguised in a bare bones rock band, and through it all the Arctic Monkeys aren’t asking for your acceptance of it, just your attention.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Outstanding)