Arctic Monkeys' fourth effort is homogenous but captivating

Courtesy of Domino

BY PROMA KHOSLA
Senior Arts Editor
Published June 12, 2011

This may come as a shock, but most musicians don’t enjoy the luxury of albums that debut at number one. But the Arctic Monkeys have experienced that joy with four out of four efforts. Their most recent full-length album, Suck It And See, shot to the top of the U.K. charts this month, as the band continues its tour of the globe to insatiable crowds in packed theaters. And by the way, they’re only 25 years old.

Arctic Monkeys


Suck It And See
Domino

It seems that the fabulous foursome from Northern England can do no wrong. James Ford, who produced all of Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) and select tracks on the slightly underwhelming Humbug (2009), returns in full for the fourth album. Suck It And See isn’t quite where the first two albums are, but it hints at the unique sound the boys brought to the indie rock scene in 2006 and integrates it into their repertoire for the new decade.

Opening track “She’s Thunderstorms” starts with characteristically creepy guitar chords, but in under 20 seconds, takes a surprising turn toward the world of love songs. The lyrics depict both frustration and awe. Turner describes a girl as turbulent and untamable as the weather — she’s not just a thunderstorm. She’s the freaking plural.

The tone has been set both lyrically and melodically for the rest of the album. “Black Treacle,” “The Hellcat Spangled Shalala,” “Reckless Serenade,” “Piledriver Waltz,” “Love Is a Laserquest” and title track “Suck It And See” all fall categorically into the same type of romantic and relaxed rock song.

The above songs run the risk of sounding the same, just like the track list of Humbug, but after a few listens, the songs develop their individual charm.

“Brick By Brick” and “Library Pictures” are the most reminiscent of the Monkeys’ first album. Nonsense lyrics return in the latter and also in the playfully titled “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” which includes such gems as “Do the Macarena in the devil’s lair.” The melody is unusually sinister, but the ease with which Turner eerily croons it makes you wonder how you didn’t see it coming.

Gone are the diabolically British tongue-twisters of the first three albums, the garage-band feel and the uncertainty of what genre you’re listening to. Suck It And See is more indie than punk. It refines the musical the evolution hinted at in Humbug. Though it may not be Arctic Monkeys as you know them, it’s a shamelessly appropriate album for summer afternoon drives.

With unprecedented success and no dearth of creativity, the Arctic Monkeys have made clear that they’re here to stay. Suck It And See may not be their best album, but it is by no means their last. They live to practice and perfect their craft, and we’re just lucky enough to listen.