Published on June 6th, 2011 | by Aaron0
First Impressions: Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
Arctic Monkeys are one of those bands that made me sit up and pay attention at a time when I was getting really cynical and apathetic about music. The first time I was introduced to them was the video for “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor”. It excited my like I was a teenager again listening to rock records. The energy and wit were a breath of fresh air.
It’s only been 5 years since that debut album, Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not, was released. Amazingly, this is their 4th album with a 5 track EP and live album also under their belts in that time. It seems the band gets bored easily.
I had been disappointed with their last album Humbug. It felt like the band were trying to be someone else. There was a departure from their sound and it struck me of pretention rather than a natural progression. But I was so attached to their first album it could have just been me doing the cardinal sin of a music fan; wanting a band to release the same album over and over again because you love it so much.
How will I take to the new album Suck It And See? Well, as always with these reviews, I will listen to the album and review it in live time. No going back, once the song is over I can’t write about it anymore. This is the first time I’m hearing any of the music so I will be giving my thoughts as I hear it.
1) She’s Thunderstorms
This sounds big. Not only in the musical sense but also production wise. You get the impression it was recorded in a cathedral or something like that. He hits a weird bum note about 2 minutes in, it’s a very airy and gentle vocal from Alex Turner otherwise. The song doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere in particular but it’s not a bad opening to the album.
2) Black Treacle
There are some guitar sounds on this I’ve never heard from them before. They’re definitely getting comfortable with their role of playing large venues because this sort of thing seems fit for it. Another song without a “hook”.
3) Brick By Brick
Wow. Nothing like I’ve ever heard from them before. It sounds quite American too. I know that may sound strange but when these guys first came out, there was no doubt they were from Sheffield, England. Where this sounds like something from… anywhere else. Dirty guitar moments and singing about rock and roll. It’s just not what I was expecting. Best song on the album so far though. First sign of a traditional chorus too.
4) The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
I’m a sucker for feedback. Throw some in at the start of a song and you have my attention. But i feel you have to back it up with then kicking some ass straight away. To go from some feedback into a mellow verse doesn’t feel right. You got my hopes up, feedback! As a result, I’m unimpressed.
5) Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
Another big and bassy track. I’m noticing Turner’s usual whimsical and witty wordplay has been replaced by more disjointed and bizarre imagery. I don’t want to say “generic” song writing because he’s still better than your average lyricist but he’s singing “yeah yeah yeah” now. Seriously? Good song though. Proper rocking.
6) Library Pictures
This is a bit more like it. Another hard rocking track and a drum line that will keep you moving… oh, wait, we’ve cooled off a notch again. And back again. This would be very enjoyable live. I’d have preferred it without the dip into crooning in the middle, but another good track.
7) All My Own Stunts
We’re flying through these. All the songs have been less than 4 minutes so far. Some even coming under 3. This one plods along. I hate calling things filler but if anyone tells me this is their favourite on the album, I’d have to laugh in their face.
8) Reckless Serenade
One of the best lyrical songs on the album, also probably the slowest and most melodic. There are some slower songs earlier on like 2 and 4 but they just aren’t as enjoyable to listen to as this one. I think they need to work on their ballads…
9) Piledriver Waltz
…Look at this one for example. It feels awkward in a few places. It’s like the wrote the music and lyrics separately and are now desperately trying to fit both together. In some places it works nicely but in others it just sounds messy. Frustrating.
10) Love Is A Laserquest
“Do you look in the mirror to remind yourself you’re there”. Oh how I’ve miss your scathing lyrical scratches. Another balladic song but this time it works like “Reckless Serenade” and hits all the right points.
11) Suck It And See
This is almost a 60s, Beach Boys-ish song. Again, sounding very Californian like in other places on the album but I’m enjoying listening a lot. I’ll never complain about this kind of old fashioned sound. I love that sort of thing. It’s unusual to hear it from the Arctic Monkeys but I should probably just get over that at this point and roll with it. Humbug was the hint towards it and this is definitely their sound now.
12) That’s Where You’re Wrong
Another big stadium rock guitar performance here. If you can catch them at any festivals this summer, I’d highly recommend checking them out because if they play tracks like this one it’s sure to be a great experience. You can almost feel the sun coming through this song. Another song I’ve enjoyed listening to a lot.
Overall: It’s a great summer rock album. I don’t know if summer rock albums are something we get much of these days but there is very little about Suck It And See that doesn’t lean towards that idea. It was made to be played at a sunny rock festival and will work best at them. There are a few songs that didn’t impress me too much but the album has more than enough highlights littered throughout to make it worth it.