Lyrical references to lazerquest, shellsuits, belly button piercings (in the sky), cowboy films, curly straws and dandelion and burdock? Guitar pop with a penchant for an unexpected heavy Queens of the Stone Age via Sheffield twist? Wistful Yorkshire accents? Yep, the Monkeys are back.
It might be worth at this stage – if I may take a minute and break the old “don’t address yourself in first person in this kind of writing or goddamn it you’ll never pass year 11 English you fucking tit” rule – to point out that this may not be the most objective review ever written.
As someone who has some pretty real ambitions of a least a couple of Arctic Monkeys lyrics tattoos, and who spent so much time pouring over everything related to the band that I accidentally fell in love with Alexa Chung, it’s been a challenge to write this as an actual review, and not just as some giddy fan-boy premature ejaculation.
So to start actually reviewing, Suck it and See is a bit of a surprise. As the White Album via 2011 preview ‘Brick by Brick’, and in particular the first single ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’, would have led you to believe, it’s not a million miles from the peyote fuelled desert adventures of Humbug.
The signatures of that polarising third album, the runaway basslines, Josh Homme cameos and kitchen sink poetry are still employed (if a bit more sparingly, save for the poetry) but whereas that record rushed in the room and threw you and your expectations around the room a bit with it’s instant heaviness Suck It comes along all pleasantly with a much more mellowed attitude, with the double hit combo ‘Library Pictures’ and highlight ‘All My Own Stunts’ being the brutal exceptions which prove the rule.
The focus of the Sheffield boys this time around is most definitely on achieving a higher level of pop song writing. Opener ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ may not get off to the speeding take off you’d hope for, but follow up ‘Black Treacle’, with the catchiest chorus the boys have come up with since ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, sets things right for ‘Brick By Brick’ (honestly, not as bad as you first thought) to rock and roll things up.
Have they grown up then, you might ask? Most definitely thank-the-lord not. Festival hit in waiting ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ and the sublime title track certainly show how in terms of musicianship, the lads are at the top of their game, and throughout it’s plain to see how Turner in particular has fully ascended from the reluctant peoples poet of 2006 to a masterful surrealist writer, with simple subtle twists such as “called up to listen to the voice of reason/and got the answering machine” and “wrecking ball gown” showing a Modest Mouse level of wordplay.
But there’s still the tongue in cheek sense of fun which has always defined the Arctic Monkeys, evidenced in the numerous shameless Merseyside melodies, youthful desperation of ‘Reckless Serenade’ and in your bloody face fact the whole thing is called Suck it and See.
So yes, I’m giving this glorious album a 9 out of 10. Don’t trust my opinion. Give it a spin, and I defy you, utterly defy you, to not have a touch of sadness when ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ the climactic closer the Monkeys have always had in them, wraps things up.
“In five years time, will it be ‘Who the fuck’s Arctic Monkeys?’” they sang five years ago. Here’s your answer….
Suck It And See is out now on Domino, you can check out the video for latest single ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ below and find out more at Arcticmonkeys.com