Arctic Monkeys review

Do Arctic Monkeys still matter? In the increasingly fragmented music world, if you’re not one of the very biggest pop hitters, you really don’t sell many records, so when comeback single Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair barely bothered the charts, it was hard to tell whether it was because no-one buys singles anymore, or because, in 2011, nobody really cares about what Alex Turner and co have to say.

Well, it turns out that maybe people still do want to hear the Sheffield band’s wry take on modern life, as this, their fourth long-player, hit the number one spot in the album chart. So, the question is, have they still got what it takes to hold our attention?

The most notable difference between this and their last outing is things here are less heavy as the band move back towards a classic English indie sound. There are several songs, not least final track That’s Where You’re Wrong, that land remarkably close to Echo and The Bunnymen. Elsewhere, there are nods to The Smiths and to classic guitar sounds of the sixties.

Perhaps the most appealing thing about Arctic Monkeys though has always been Turner’s clever wordplay, yet Suck It and See is a little hit and miss on that front. “If you’re gonna try and walk on water/Make sure you wear your comfortable shoes, sings Turner on Piledriver Waltz. It’s kinda pleasing on the ear before you realise that it doesn’t really mean anything. Mainly though, the stories are still boldly painted in the way you would have come to expect from the Monkeys.

Something else largely missing is the classic Arctic Monkeys shot of adrenalin accompanied by the witty slap in the face. Only the thrilling psych-rock of Library Pictures could comfortably slot into their first two albums. However, that’s not to say this isn’t a good record. It is clearly elegantly crafted and performed and the references are delivered with knowledge and love. The fact that it is slightly more laid-back than we have come to expect is simply because they aren’t a bunch of self-assured teens anymore and it would be unrealistic for us to expect them to still be trying to deliver their songs with the snappy aggression of youth.

Simply, Suck It and See is the sound of a band maturing and, while not wholly satisfactory, it’s a damn sight better than we could have expected.

Review by Bobby Townsend