Even if you prefer the youthful attitude on their first two albums, or if you’re more of a fan of the deftly produced Humbug and AM, there are a myriad of standout tracks on this record that prove that Suck It And See is a project that simply shouldn’t be ignored.
The release of Humbug in 2009 marked a major shift in the sonic tone that Arctic Monkeys had made a name for themselves with in the latter half of the previous decade- the Sheffield quartet had departed from their straightforward indie rock roots for experimental pursuits, opting for more moody, desert rock influenced soundscapes with their third release. As fruitful as these pursuits were, and whilst their fourth record still takes them a long way from South Yorkshire, Suck It And See– released in 2011- sees Alex Turner and co. return to their more direct and accessible origins.
Suck It And See’s release was preceded by lead single “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”, an imposing jam teaming with sharp-tongued lyrics and distorted guitar riffs. It was evident at this point that the band had their fun with the production-heavy Humbug and were going back to a more raw sound. Raw doesn’t necessarily mean heavy in the case of this record though, despite what the aforementioned single may suggest.
Recorded in the legendary Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, West Coast influences bleed through the entirety of this record; dreamy, sun-soaked guitars heard on the likes of “She’s Thunderstorms”, “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” as well as the title track take the place of the driven riffs you’d typically hear on Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not or Favourite Worst Nightmare. While this may be a turn-off for diehard Arctic Monkeys fans who have followed them since day one, the band’s drive to diversify their sonic palette has to be admired, especially when it’s pulled off as successfully as it is here.
The evolution of the band’s sound has been met equally with the evolution of Alex Turner’s lyricism and, in my opinion, Suck It And See is Turner’s finest display in this discipline. Arctic Monkey’s debut album saw Turner deliver scything observations of his hometown in a descriptively vivid still life image. However, a more abstract approach to songwriting is adopted by the band’s frontman with their fourth record; at times enamouring, at others completely absurd, yet never ceasing to be entertaining.
With such a brilliant and varied discography, you’d be forgiven if you were to overlook this one, but even if you prefer the youthful attitude on their first two albums, or if you’re more of a fan of the deftly produced Humbug and AM, there are a myriad of standout tracks on this record that prove that Suck It And See is a project that simply shouldn’t be ignored.