August 2nd, 2011

Album Review: “Suck It and See” by Arctic Monkeys

I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw that Arctic Monkeys was releasing a 2011 album. I fell back in my chair when I finally heard Suck It And See, the UK-based indie rock band’s fourth album. I am sad to report that the album is less than stellar.

The first single, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” is a great way to kick off the promotion of Suck It And See. It has enough attitude and grit to back up the album’s title — ’suck it’ indeed. It’s not like singer/guitarist Alex Turner is completely successful with “oooohs” and “yeah yeah yeahs” on the debut single. But that droning bass line and seedy feedback from the guitars in the refrain is enough to say “we’re not just skinny tossers from across the pond.” No bollocks.

However, when I first tuned into arcticmonkeys.com to listen to the entire album, I was dismayed to discover many of the tracks could be done without and I suddenly found myself considering the snobbery of purchasing individual tracks. I caved and bought the whole album, but it’s because I’m a fan and have an obsession with loyalty that sometimes boils to the point shame.

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The first two tracks are as bland as the album cover — a stark white with muddied courier font that was no where near as clever in its simplicity as The Black Keys’ Brothers cover. But that’s just fashion and we’re talking function. “She’s Thunderstorms” barely works up a gust. It builds like it’s going to be one of those late-summer storms and turns out to be a pissy April shower that comes on and off every five minutes. This track pales in comparison to the beast of “Brainstorm” (2007’s opener to Favourite Worst Nightmare) and is way less entrancing than “My Propeller” (2009’s Humbug.)

“Black Treacle” is interesting, but not enough to keep my attention. If anything, it’s my favorite worst track. I honestly wish the first two songs were released as bonus tracks; that way the album can start with “Brick by Brick.”

Turner has a clever way of turning a phrase, especially in song titles. “Brick by Brick” builds as such until the wall comes tumbling into a simple blues breakdown, capped off by bursting back into the main riff. So far, I’ve seen some teeth, but this album isn’t really barking at me like the first three.

“The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” is just another example of this. It has more of that familiar posh, electronic trance that drew me into the band in the first place. But this hellcat has no claws.

Forturnately, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” follows and I get that old feeling again. This is a great first single, but no where near my favorite track.

Library Pictures” is hands down the top track for me on this record. Matt Helders puts the drum pedal to the metal in this intro and doesn’t let up until the refrain. My fist is pumping in the air one minute, then reaching for my lighter the next. I will be looking forward to hearing this song when they come to Houston in early August. I will also be looking forward to “All My Own Stunts,” “Piledriver Waltz.”

Once again, Turner’s wit shines in “Waltz.” The first half of the song had me wondering where the waltz was, forgetting about the piledriver. When the waltz finally kicked it, the “ahah!” moment smaked me in the face like a … well, piledriver. I’ve “been for breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel,” many times before and apparently so has Turner. His advice: “If you’re going to travel, make sure you wear your comfortable shoes,” he croons before the chorus.

After you’ve finished breakfast at the Heartbreak Hotel, you can go back to your room and curl up under the blanket of “Love Is A Laserquest.”

“Do you still think love is a laserquest or do you take it all more seriously?” Turner inquires in the opening verse. Sounds more like a question for Dater Unknown. I have no answers. Only a question lingering: Does Turner and the rest of the Arctic Monkeys believe the rest of the album is worth it?

The last two songs, “Suck It And See” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong” are just as apathetic as the first two.

The end result: I sucked it and see it sucked enough that the beginning and end of the album should’ve been B-sides. Hopefully that won’t affect the bands performance as they tour in support of the album. I first saw the band open for Queens Of The Stone Age in 2007 at the Verizon Wireless center. I had heard of the band before that show and was completely hooked afterward. That night, I became a member of the Arctic Ape Family.

Meanwhile you can see the band (without sucking anything) at The House of Blues on August 3rd, 2011. Tickets are $30 for general admission; $38 for balcony seats.

Grunts and groans by Jordan Overturf, out-of-the-Loopster.

— The Loop Scoop

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