Arctic Monkeys – “Suck It And See” (2011, Domino Records)
Reviewer: Matt Holden
On their fourth studio album, the Arctic Monkeys continue on a journey they’ve been on for quite some time now, trying to define themselves and perhaps more importantly, their sound. On what is arguably their best album since their first (entitled “Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not,”) the band once again deviates from their previous sound, although this time to a more welcoming tune.
After the tremendous success of their first record and the overwhelming pressure to become Britain’s next big act, the band has found itself wallowing it mediocrity, putting out two albums that garnered a fair amount of success, but failed to make a splash the way their debut did in their native country of England. While moderate success has been achieved here in the states, NME made the mistake of heralding them as the “next Beatles” before their first album was ever released, leaving them the victims of steep expectations.
On “Suck It and See” the band has tunes that are primed for radio play such as “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” which, much like albums of old, serves as the designated ballad track much like songs such as “Mardy Bum” and “Flourescent Adolescent” did previously. However what separates the new material is the absence of lyrically dense songs with melodies that seem undetectable. Instead what exists are rock songs steeped in simplicity, almost as if the band is attempting to cater to a wider audience and potentially trying to find songs that will translate better when played live in bigger venues.
Songs such as “Black Treacle” and “Brick By Brick” are good examples of this, with straight forward lyrics and a heavy guitar presence, the two songs are figured out within the first listen.
Because Alex Turner has been such a clever song writer in the past, this move seems to send a message of the band adhering more to outside influences as opposed to their own desires, something the third album “Humbug” was filled with. Whatever the case may be, the latest by the Arctic Monkeys sees the band evolving as well as reforming their sound to apply to more ears while maintaining an attitude that is wholly their own.