Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Suck It and See – Arctic Monkeys

Rating 8/10

It is nearly impossible to go into a new Arctic Monkeys album without expectations, but at the same time it is difficult to know what to expect. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem as though the Monkeys are interested in making the same album twice. This is not to say that any of the previous albums were lacking, but the Monkeys had begun to build a reputation for moving into seemingly darker territories with each new release. This left fans wondering if the band would dive into murkier waters after the release of their third album Humbug. In fact, Suck It and See provides a wonderful juxtaposition to the dark psychedelic sound of Humbug with songs that are refreshing, breezy, and light-hearted.

The album begins with opening track “She’s Thunderstorms”; a dreamy mellow pop song that sets the tone for the majority of the album. As the album progresses it becomes clear that the album not only carries a much more mellow tone than previous albums, but a distinct vintage tone as well. This is illustrated in the third track “Brick by Brick”, who’s foundation is built on crunchy California rock guitars that sound as if they’re straight from the 60’s. This change in style seems to be at least partially influenced by the fact that the Arctic Monkeys recorded the album entirely in Los Angeles.

Of course one of the most signature attributes of any Monkey’s album is the exceedingly clever and poetic lyrics by front man Alex Turner. Turner fails to disappoint on Suck It and See with some romanticized storytelling and great one liners such as, “I took the batteries out my mysticism and put them in my thinking cap”, “I’ve tried to ask you this in some daydreams that I’ve had but you’re always busy being make believe”, and “that’s not a skirt girl that’s a sawn off shotgun and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me”.

The most difficult thing to swallow about Suck It and See is the pacing, which is due largely to the arrangement of the songs. It’s not as though the album lacks punch, with songs like “All My Own Stunts” and “Library Pictures” adding in the fast paced gritty rock sounds the band developed during their ventures in Humbug and Favourite Worst Nightmare. Rather the issue lies in the fact that the last half of the album tends to blur into a single love crooning ballad. Unfortunately, each one of these songs, on their own, stand out as some of the albums strongest and more memorable songs. Even the seemingly recycled “Piledriver Waltz”, a song that was released on Turner’s solo EP just three months ago, meshes will with overall vintage sound of the album. However, the album’s closer, “That’s Where Your Wrong”, is certainly worth the wait as wispy guitars and alluring vocals build into a signature climactically closing track that wraps up the album nicely.

Despite this minor setback of a seemingly unbalanced album, Suck It and See is certainly one of the year’s biggest highlights in music and is most certainly a wonderful addition to the Arctic Monkey’s already impressive portfolio. With an appropriate summer release, Suck It and See will be the perfect soundtrack to a tall glass of lemonade, a convertible cruise amidst a setting sun, and a starry-eyed summer romance.

Album Highlights: Black Treacle, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala, All My Own Stunts, That’s Where Your Wrong

Album Low Points: Piledriver Waltz

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