Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See
Record Label: Domino
Release Date: June 6th, 2011
Arctic Monkey's fourth album was almost called one of the following names according to lead singer Alex Turner: The Rain-Shaped Shimmer Trap, The Thunder-Suckle Fuzz Canyon, The Blond-o-Sonic Rape Alarm, and even Thriller. So in truth, Suck It and See is not really as outlandish a name as has been initially claimed. The album name is a continuation of the naming process started with 2009’s Humbug. The two albums are named around the same sweetened confectionery, but that is where the similarities stop dead. Humbug has finally been accepted as the lash out at fame that we all knew it was deep down, and the band are now back on track to making dirty fucking rock music. Guitars to the ready.
Humbug was not a bad record by any means (it is actually my favourite of the four), but established fans seemed to not really get it. It was a Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age fame) led desert orgy that left the Monkeys running from the greying streets of England for the first time into ferociously moody and somewhat drunken rock n’ roll territory. But with sobriety came a realisation of what made these four lads famous in the first place; and so Suck It and See gives a cheeky nod to English colloquialisms in every single track. For example, “She's been loop-the-looping around my mind” [She’s Thunderstorms], “Give me an eenie meenie miney mo/Or an ip dip dog shit rock n roll” [Library Pictures], “Home sweet booby trap/I took the batteries out my mysticism/And put them in my thinking cap” [The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala] etc. The lyrics on this record are all based around short quirky stories, but with a massive dollop of English bravado from Alex Turners humorous ongoing young-life-crisis. In all seriousness he details everything from kung fu fighting to a nights stay at the heartbreak hotel.
The record as I have suggested was written on guitars before the bass and, the not so secret weapon that is the lethal Matthew Helders’, drumming was applied. This shines through on the production with the guitar work owning the majority of the record, which leads us on to the tag of this being a classic rock record. The album although significantly signalling to the Monkeys origins, it also demonstrates the ten thousand guitar albums that went before them having been infused into the bands meta-narrative. Nick Cave, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and even Johnny Cash would all give this album a nod or two every now and again as a tumult of influences spills out into the twelve tracks. “Don’t Sit Down Cause’ I’ve Moved Your Chair” is the heaviest of these songs and is a wonderful introduction into this album as it grabs you by the ears and welcomes you to a fight. The mood can be brought down too with tracks like “Reckless Serenade” and more-so “Piledriver Waltz”. The unlikely success on the album is the terribly named ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” which just gets more hilarious and catchy the more you listen to it. Just try not to be crowing the lyrics “what you waiting for?/Sing another fucking shalalala” after giving it a few listens.
There are a few dodgy songs when it comes to the end of the album with the not altogether successful efforts “Love is a Laserquest” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong” coming to mind. Although they are not bad songs, they do cross over a bit onto the boring side. The album overall is a slow burner and perhaps will not grab you like the first two records did. But with a bit of time and effort, you too will be (be it air) guitaring your way around a (make believe) stage just like the rejuvenated stadium sized Arctic Monkeys hopefully will be for the next thirty plus years.