Arctic Monkeys Arctic MonkeysSuck It And See
Two years ago, Arctic Monkeys knocked on our door again. They came to present “Humbug”, co-produced by Josh Homme. A priori, many took the news with scepticism. The champions of adolescent indie rock with the king of desert rock? But they came out with the ferocious “Crying Lightning”, and all the doubts disappeared. The combination made a lot of noise. In hindsight, that third album turned out to be the best of their career and the one that would be a point of inflection for the band. They had left behind their youth, let their hair grow and bought Black Sabbath T-shirts.
On 4th March, shortly after announcing the band’s fourth album, they premiered “Brick By Brick”, and a little later, after revealing the release date and title of the album, “Suck It and See”, a second appetiser arrived with “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”. Although this time James Ford was at the controls, on both songs you could hear that Josh Homme wasn’t completely out of the picture yet: they were two devastating cave rock tunes that made us think this was going to be their hardest album yet. But nothing could be further from the truth – this effort sounds more like a greatest hits. And not because all of the songs on it are hits, even though many of them are, but because it sounds like an overview of their short but intense career so far.
“Love In A Laserquest” sounds close to what Alex Turner was doing with The Last Shadow Puppets, albeit without the orchestral arrangements; the two songs mentioned earlier are the direct continuation of “Crying Lightning”, pure rock and roll electricity; the title track goes hand in hand with the extremely beautiful “Cornerstone”; there’s a version of “Piledriver Waltz”, one of the most solid pieces Turner composed for the soundtrack of Richard Ayoade’s “Submarine”, giving it more intensity; “Black Treacle” and “The Hellcat Splangled Shalalala” cater to the lovers of early Arctic Monkeys; and the overwhelming and super short “Library Pictures” is for those who want frantic rhythms for the indie dancefloor. But there’s more: on “She’s Thunderstorms”, Jamie Cook turns into Johnny Marr. The guitarist shows great technique, giving us riffs for the future like those on “Reckless Serenade”. They said this would be a vintage record, but make no mistake: they’ve taken all the registers of their career to give them a makeover and an update. In fact, they will definitely gain some new fans, as they did with “Humbug”.
And if Jamie Cook has grown as a guitarist, Alex Turner’s pen also seems to be in great shape. A good example is “Suck It And See”, less fiery than the title would indicate, and textbook English pop. It’s a classic love song, but written with a skill that is surprising for a 25 year old ( “I poured my aching heart in a pop song”), with possibly one of the best verses ever written: “That’s not a skirt, girl, that’s a son of shotgun / And I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me.” He sticks with the broken love theme on “Love In A Laserquest” with this spot on verse: “Darling, have you started feeling old yet / Don’t worry, I’m sure that you’re still breaking hearts / With the efficiency that only youth can harness.” Lyrics that are puzzling at the same time, as they could have come from a musician well into his forties.
Arctic Monkeys have only been in this game for five years, they’re not older than 25 and they’ve already had time to record four albums, growing more solid with each one. “Suck It And See” is an extremely mature record (even though the sleeve is an unnecessary joke). In the meantime, competing bands such as The Strokes and Bloc Party are going downhill, and Franz Ferdinand are becoming more irregular every day. The media were right when they created the hype around the Sheffield band, back in 2006. Over time, all the talent they were going on about has been flourishing up to this point, turning them into one of the most important and solid bands of the moment.
Álvaro García Montoliu