The Arctic Monkeys have finally made an even progression in their music.
The British indie-rock group’s second full-length album, Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) was non-stop energy. Fast tempos and strong vocals prevailed throughout the album.
The band’s third record seemed to sprint in the opposite direction. Humbug (2009) was mellow and slow – reminiscent of fellow brits, The Smiths.
Both albums were good, there’s no denying that. It showed the quartet’s range.
But now, with the group’s fourth, Suck It and See, we finally get a pleasant mix of their ranges – sometimes in the same song.
Listening to the twelve track album front to back makes it difficult to miss the blend of the mellow and lethargic, and the energetic and flashy.
‘She’s Thunderstorms’, the first track off the record, opens with a lone electric guitar playing an almost-eerie riff. Then, Alex Turner, vocals and lead guitar, comes in with his recognizably smooth voice, singing, “She’s thunderstorms / Lying on her front / Up against the wall / She’s thunderstorms”.
Cue blasting drums.
The music is what we may have heard on Favourite Worst Nightmare, while vocals and lyrics are something that may have been the b-side to Humbug.
And while this comforting familiarity is great, the Arctic Monkeys, rounded out by Jamie Cook (rhythm guitar), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar) and Matt Helders (percussion), as fans know, aren’t about to let us run through an album unsurprised.
So comes ‘Brick by Brick’.
Like a throwback to the Rolling Stones, or David Bowie, this track has everything good about Rock N Roll of the ’70s.
It’s got fairly simple music – a not complex guitar riff, an easy-to-mimic drum beat. The vocals are either high and nasal, or deep and throaty, both are almost over-exaggerated.
Even the lyrics are layman; each line is punctuated with the adage “brick by brick”.
One of the higher-energy songs on the record, ‘Brick by Brick’ is what really proves their reach. In a style that is not easy to pull off, the Arctic Monkeys manage to fly through the song with ease and charisma.
Likewise, ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ is not what one could call groundbreaking. What makes it interesting is that in comparison to what we’re used to hearing from the Arctic Monkeys, it is surprisingly distinct.
Metal-infused, the track is rife with heavy guitar riffs, lots of bass and what can only be described as outlandish lyrics.
Finally, the album’s title track, ‘Suck It and See’, delivers possibly the greatest surprise of the full 40 minutes.
For a song about a white-hot, passionate kind of love, the track is eerily calm.
Soft, hazy vocals are coupled with a tender yet immoderate use of drum symbols, while the guitars are gentle and consistent, but vigorous.
The lyrics compliment the tune well, but don’t necessarily match:
“Suck it and see you never know / Sit next to me before I go / Jigsaw women with horror movie shoes / Be cruel to me cos I’m a fool for you”
With musical versatility like this, odds are that Suck It and See will be met with mixed reviews. But what can’t be denied, along with the group’s talent, is their obvious imprint on pop culture.
Don’t believe me?
Suck it and see.
The Arctic Monkeys are currently touring on Suck It and See, which hit stores earlier this week.