If popular music has taught us anything, the law of probability dictates that the Arctic Monkey’s career trajectory should be plotted thus; release outstanding debut album, and then fail to ever match it’s artistic merits, despite exclamations that each subsequent album is definitely (maybe) better, (but the last one wasn’t as good, they know), before disappearing into a cocaine fuelled fog and/or spending the rest of their days hiding in their fuck off big house in the country and/or joining Primal Scream. But the Arctic Monkeys don’t appear to follow the rulebook, as fourth album ‘Suck It And See’ proves rather emphatically, they haven’t even bothered to read it.
Because what should be a foray into middle age, after all they’re (cough) mid twenties, this is anything but the turgid rock album that by rights they should now be turning out. Instead, ‘Suck It And See’, is an altogether poppier affair, more instantaneous than ‘Humbug’, less frenetic than ‘Whatever You Say I Am…”. It’s packed to the rafters with Generation XX’s Official Poet Laureate, Alex Turner’s trademark caustic lyrics, whilst Jamie Cook throws out some guitar shapes that Johnny Marr himself would be proud of.
Having returned to James Ford’s production fold, the influence of previous collaborator Josh Homme is felt only sporadically, most notably on the intentionally dumb ‘Brick By Brick’. Elsewhere, this appears to have been cast aside for a sound that’s less classic rock, and more vintage rock’n’roll. Album opener, ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, with a solitary guitar riff driving it forward, immediately introduces the listener to the heartfelt tone of the album. Fresh from it’s outing on Turner’s solo EP, ‘Submarine’, the exquisite ‘Piledriver Waltz’ is reworked as a band effort, the atmospheric effect of the positively swoonsome guitars complimented by Turner’s pithy lyrics. Moreover, if the unequivocally euphoric ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’, isn’t a single, nay, the single, of the summer, then someone needs to be fired.
But it’s album closer ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’, that really sparkles, making a genuine play for Best Arctic Monkey’s Song Of All Time. Like the long lost cousin of Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘Lips Like Sugar’, it’s filled with crashing, joyful guitar lines, and underpinned by an urgent drum beat that’s just begging to fill indie discos across the land. And when that does happen, I bet we all look good on that dancefloor, too.
Records & Merch
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