Posted on June 22nd, 2011 (11:00 am) by Michael Cirigliano

When we all look back at the music industry’s transformation (or rather, devaluation) over the past decade, Arctic Monkeys are going to hold a very important place in the story being told. In the mid-‘00s, just when blogs and MySpace were really coming into their own as a critical entity, Arctic Monkeys took the initiative to promote and distribute their music for free—helping them reach a burgeoning scene that didn’t even know they wanted another jangly rock band to emerge from the United Kingdom. An epic amount of buzz was created, and when their debut-LP, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was released in 2006, the Sheffield group were already a firestorm. They had energy to burn, witty lyrics, and most of all, amazing hooks. Arctic Monkeys were truly part of the paradigm shift, one that continues into the current world of Bandcamp and Facebook, allowing artists the chance to distribute their music with little to no fuss—with the hopeful pay-off eventually being world-wide recognition.

As much as the core elements of Arctic Monkeys’ music has remained steadfast over their previous three albums, their latest release for Domino Records, Suck It and See, shows the group maturing wonderfully, adding strength and breadth to their sound while still maintaining their initial penchant for humor and wit. (A note for easily offended American audiences: my time living in London taught me that the album title’s seemingly-dirty phrase simply means: “Just give it a try.”) Overall, the Monkeys have learned to let their guitars sing, rather than just rhythmically crunch, and although they are still capable of rough-housing at a breakneck speed, a large portion of Suck It and See actually slows down the pace, allowing ballads to ring with melodic precision and sincerity.

Opening track “She’s Thunderstorms” is the first song to make use of some stunning tempest-based imagery, with furious drums and guitars painting the title’s text incredibly well during the song’s refrain. The guitars are metallic and staccato, but whereas Alex Turner would have yelped his phrases on earlier material, here is voice is warm and melodic. The pacing is slower, which aids the grace of the lyrics even more throughout the song. On “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”, Turner shows just how adept he is at choosing his words: when ruminating about a former love, he confesses that “her steady hands may well have done the devil’s pedicure.” Even when the stories being told in an Arctic Monkeys song may seem like overwrought journal entries, Turner is able to pop a line such as, “You look like you’ve been for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel” into the mix, transforming the mundane into the miraculous.

The band continues to push the boundaries of their sound, moving between Beach Boys-style pop and vintage Beatles-esque harmonies and energy with equal grace. Building on the muscular sounds they created on 2009’s Josh Homme-produced Humbug, tracks like “Library Pictures” and “Don’t Sit Down ‘cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” show a different side of what the Monkeys can produce. Nothing is heavy-handed in these songs; it’s more about adding weight to the standard formulas found in their songwriting. Adding to that already dynamic mix, the ‘60s-style Gainsbourg sounds that Turner studied so well for his 2008 side-project, The Last Shadow Puppets, helps to create even more versatility over the course of the album. Turner’s vocals and lyrics continue to make the band’s work completely cohesive, and the fact that his now-lyrical tenor is becoming stronger and darker with age only goes to show how much life there still is in Arctic Monkeys’ future. In one of the band’s early interviews, Turner was humble about the group’s future, saying that in five years time the music world would be asking, “Who the fuck is the Arctic Monkeys?” Thankfully, here we are five years later, and he could not have been more wrong.

Track List:

1. She's Thunderstorms
2. Black Treacle
3. Brick By Brick
4. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
5. Don't Sit Down 'cause I've Moved Your Chair
6. Library Pictures
7. All My Own Stunts
8. Reckless Serenade
9. Piledriver Waltz
10. Love Is A Laserquest
11. Suck It And See
12. That's Where You're Wrong

Arctic Monkeys: Suck It And See
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

79 / 100
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