Posts Tagged ‘Humbug’

Suck It And See

Arctic Monkeys

Domino Records

Released: 06/06/2011

Suck It And See, the fourth full-length album by the Arctic Monkeys arrives amidst strangely little hype and speculation. Considering the lukewarm reception from their fanbase to the third offering Humbug perhaps this isn’t surprising. A blatantly uncreative album cover suggests the Sheffield four-piece are basking in their newfound low profile. The provocative album title provides satirical continuity with Humbug; a concept lost in the USA where the moniker has received censorship.

A quick glance at the rear reveals songs entitled ‘Serenade, Waltz, Love and Shalalala’ leading you to wonder if they have produced a 50/60’s revival record. With Johnny Cash and The Byrds noted as influences this may not be too far off the mark. “We wanted it to be song-based this time” explains Alex Turner whose adventurous lyrics never disappoint.

‘It’s riffs, loud, funny’ states the front cover of one music magazine. “There’s definitely a sense of humour in this record” confirms Turner. “Lately I’ve been seeing things, belly button piercings” he amusingly observes in Black Treacle, a viscous yet sumptuous metaphor for the sky.

Omnipresent features of Suck It And See are Jamie Cook’s guitar chimes which twinkle and fade charmingly in the backdrop of Turner’s smooth vocals.

Enigmatically-named, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala is a sparkling sing-song that resembles the jangling Cornerstone. “I took the batteries out my mysticism and put ‘em in my thinking cap” croons Turner. The beautifully-composed Reckless Serenade tells the tale of romantic encounters with “the type of kisses where teeth collide”. The soppy situations are further ventured in the enchanting choruses of That’s Where You’re Wrong. “She looks as if she’s blowing a kiss at me and suddenly the sky is a scissor”.

Turner’s metaphorical ingenuity continues in Love Is A Laserquest and the harmonious title track Suck It And See where love is likened to a “studded leather headlock”.

In contrast to the overriding story-telling theme, a trio of songs stick out like a white man in Hammersmith Palais. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair is a sole link to the bass-heavy rock reminiscent of the Homme-inspired Humbug. “Do the Macarena in the devil’s lair” Turner rhymes playfully in a dark 3 minutes. Library Pictures is a reminder that the Arctic Monkeys used to write quick indie tracks. The punchline “… or an ip, dip, dogshit rock and roll” cues an electrifying riff backed by Matt Helders’ Offspring-style drum thrashing. The most anomalous track is the lyrically one-dimensional pre-release Brick By Brick which sees Helders assume lead vocals in a new construction.

Having tasted the whole contents though it’s clear Suck It And See has a soft, beguiling centre. The dominant flavour of this selection is more Last Shadow Puppets minus the orchestral element than pre-Humbug era guitar solos. This is a fine demonstration of warming melodies coupled to the words of a maturing lyricist. Long gone are the youthful songs about dirty dancefloors and dreams of naughtiness. The Arctic Monkeys have evolved into huggy bears.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Do you like this review or have an alternative view of Messeurs Turner, Cook, O’Malley and Helders’ fourth installment?

@ Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield


Waltzing on stage to Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing, Sheffield’s prodigal sons embrace their homecoming crowd. “Tonight there’ll be some love” Alex Turner promises during the evening’s opener The View From The Afternoon. With Turner sporting a t-shirt featuring the Sheffield City Council emblem, tonight’s gig indeed bears all the hallmarks of an affectionate reunion. “Who’s from High Green?” he later quizzes the 10,000-odd faithful herded into the band’s specially-erected tent, to a decent response.

The selection of The Full Monty title track is a stroke of genius. Whether or not it’s an improvised selection in response to Miles Kane’s largely mediocre support set is open to debate. Either way it immediately has the expectant fans boogying and in full voice which is important after their poorly received 2009 Reading & Leeds headlining performances. And to further silence the doubters the Monkeys blister through an opening quartet of “early” songs including the wall of sound that is Brianstorm and the irresistible solos of Still Take You Home.

The term “early” is now synonymous with the pre-Humbug era of Arctic Monkeys discography. That Josh Homme-influenced third album recorded in the Mojave ironically deserted a substantial proportion of the Arctic’s fanbase and is thus reflected in the inclusion tonight of only three numbers from its sleeve. Conversely the material from the newly released fourth attempt Suck It And See blends in seamlessly. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala in particular complements the chimes of Cornerstone and a rare, celebrated acoustic version of Mardy Bum, when the Monkeys decide to “slow things down”.

The bulk of the set leans on the first two albums with Nick O’Malley’s basslines reverberating around the tent interior on Teddy Picker and If You Were There, Beware. It doesn’t take a sharp eye to tell that the youthful exuberance and passion are absent from the inevitable renditions of When The Sun Goes Down and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. The quartet must loathe playing the two club-adopted classics but are well aware that a riot would ensue in the event of their exclusion. When Kane surprisingly returns to stage there are excited whispers of a Last Shadow Puppets cameo but the wishful thinking is swiftly dispelled. Cue instead the spine-tingling 505 with Kane on guitar.

Fittingly the night closes with A Certain Romance, signalled by Matt Helders’ rumbling drums. Turner chuckles when chewing his lyrics on the last verse. “Oh I don’t care” he wanes, but neither do the adoring masses who rejoicingly recite for him. “It’s been an honour Sheffield” says the departing Turner. The feeling is mutual duck.

Rating: 9 out of 10