“Suck It and See” – Arctic Monkeys
(The headline picture as well as the two last ones in this blog are pictures taken by me at their show earlier this year)
This four piece English band which formed in 2002 in Sheffield, UK is composed of Alex Turner (lead vocals, Lead/rhythm guitar), Jamie Cook (rhythm/lead guitar), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Matt Helders (drums, percussion, backing vocals). They have released their fourth full-length album, “Suck It and See.” This album is a dramatic shift in sound with comparison to their previous album, “Humbug,” in every aspect of the style, lyrics, and presentation of the album. It was recorded in Los Angeles and there are certain American factors and notions that can be seen in this English bands album. “Suck it and See,” was released on June 6th 2011.
Looking back at Humbug we recollect the singles from that album such as, “Crying Lightning,” and “Cornerstone,” which were aimed for an older audience, is serious and dark, and is profound instrumentally. The vocals were perfect and the instruments overlapped each other in a masterful way that showed the new found maturity of the band. During their tour they played nearly every song from “Humbug,” and showed a different side of them from their second album, which made them in the top forty in the UK charts, “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” “Humbug” though was a success but was not completely well received by all because of the lack of fun and up-beat style “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” had with songs like “Brainstorm,” and “Florescent Adolescent.” At a first glance I had some trouble accepting “Suck It and See,” as the next big album because of Josh Homme, which took the band out of their normal realm and into a darker and wilder musical world for “Humbug.” There are those who wish to see the band return to their roots and write the next “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” but I instead liked the new direction of the band. I saw “Suck It and See,” as a step back for the band, but this is a great album which has broadened the reach of the band finally to America. “Suck It and See,” is the break and push that the band needed to finally jump across the pond and reach the American Audience with its style and scheme of guitar driven themes as well as the return of the obscene drumming from Nick O’Malley. Turner said “I think the new album is a balance between our first three. There’s nothing about taxi ranks or anything like that, but there’s a bit of the standpoint I had on those early songs and the sense of humour, but also there’s a bit of the “Humbug” stuff which is kind of off in the corners.”
We have traces of “Humbug,” in this album with songs like “Piledriver Waltz,” which have Alex singing tranquilly and have vocals that are soothing with lyrics that make little to no sense but are still refreshing. With that the next song is the calm and is the harmonious song of this album, by which I mean that Arctic Monkeys traditionally have a song like this per album. Previously the entire album was nearly like this but mainly was “Cornerstone,” and on “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” it was “Only Ones Who Knew,” and finally on “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I am Not,” it is “Riot Van.” “Love Is a Laserquest,” is the calm and melodic song that is driven by a gentle hand on the guitar and drums with soothing and calm vocals that do no whisper to the listener but instead speak.
Continuing with using “Humbug,” as a reference we get a song like, “All My Own Stunts,” which at first was my preferred song on this album. Though I was still attempting to keep the idea of “Humbug” I realized this song was derived from the experience they previously had and just used the reverb and tones from previous song and incorporated that into a new song. It sound similar to, “Dangerous Animals,” in a sense but is only a comparison and not a definition of the song.
We then are able to see more traces of, “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” in songs like “Black Treacle,” which are driven by a lead guitar and have flowing lyrics as well as sound fun and uplifting with a very catchy chorus. “Now it’s getting dark. And the sky looks sticky. More like black treacle than tar. Black treacle. Somebody told the stars. You’re not coming out tonight. And so they found a place to hide.” It is a bit of a memory of “Florescent Adolescent” with the lengthy and catchy chorus which we all love from the band. It also has those hallucinogenic lyrics to which give the lyrics narcotic allusions. “Reckless Serenade” is another song which resembles a few pieces and bits of songs from “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” as well as some of “Humbug.” It has the playfulness as well as the masterful tone and vibrant sounds. These songs have no real meaning to them other than the meaning of enjoyment for the listener which works perfectly for these songs since the structure is well done and the tone of the vocals and instruments is on par with each other that a lack of meaning lyrically is not a burden.
We then have songs which are just bits and pieces of their albums collectively and merge to make a completely new sound and atmosphere that the band has founded with this album. Each album is different holding different styles and tempos. Ever since we saw their profound and deep immersion into music with songs like “505,” and then turn to be playful and just go at it with, “Teddy Picker,” we look for that now in this album. Though we lack the deep and narrative driven lyrics like we did in their previous albums, we get the playful and fun with songs like, “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala,” and get the deep music through a not so dark medium as seen in “Suck It and See.”
The other songs on this album are the ones which are more American based as well as harder and louder than the previous songs done by the band. The first single released to the public, “Brick by Brick,” is a song which sounds similar to their sound in “Whatever People Say I Am, That is Now What I Am,” but is more Americanized yet still keeping their own sound. This song is a psychedelic guitar with a heavy bass line that follows and drums that kick the pace to a faster and harder level. The lyrics are too repetitive and being the first single meant that it was the only song out there, hearing “Brick by Brick,” over and over again got tiresome at first. It is an acquired taste to finally like this song which eventually did gain its appeal on me.
Another song which surpassed the threshold of the band is “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.” The lyrics once again make no sense but the guitar is the driving force of the song being the powerful and raw instrument which makes the song. Alex Turner’s vocals sound different, deeper, and a bit darker in this song which differs from his vocals in any other album. The song is hard and sounds Americanized to an extent but is still Arctic Monkeys. This song is the bands attempt to differ themselves from having a fan base of bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Oasis and obtain a completely different following. The lyrics are fun and playful considering the intensity of the song, “Do the macarena in the devils lair. But just don’t sit down cause’ I’ve moved your chair.” This was the second song released to the public before the album came out giving fans an in depth look at the variety of the album. With this sneak peek there was an obscene amount of nostalgia surrounding this album.
Turner said: “I think it’s pretty frantic at times. It has its moments that are a bit more like the chimey guitar thing, like reverberated out that occurs in quite a lot of the songs and I suppose that does give it quite a mellow aspect. I guess probably compared with the first two, it is not as fast and crazy. But it has moments like that.”
The song which brings the band to the traditional Arctic Monkeys sound created by songs like, “If You Were There, Beware” and “Pretty Visitors,” is “Library Pictures.” It starts of already with the drums going at full speed to be accompanied by guitar feedback, pulsating bass, and a running rhythm guitar. The song is loud and raises the expectations of the build only to go down and stay at a steady pace for a verse. It then picks up where it left off and finished the build with a well done and mind blowing out of control beat. This just like “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved your Chair,” is playful lyrically ending with, “Give me an eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Or an ip dip, dog shit, rock and roll”
“Suck It and See,” is currently the single being played and is toping the UK charts and deserves to be the single of this album. This song is playful and one of the main themes of this album with referring to love. The song is sweet and mellow and sounds like a traditional Arctic Monkeys song with a slight twist that cannot be explained and has to be heard. The lyrics are moving and progress the song moving the listener to a simpler and memorable time such as their previous songs in other albums didThe sprightful lyrics are memorable and leave a lasting mark. “I poured my aching heart into a pop song. I couldn’t get the hang of poetry. That’s not a skirt girl that’s a sawn off shotgun. And I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me”