Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See

January 01, 1970



It must be an unimaginably heavy
cross to bear when at the ripe old age of 19, you’re heralded as the Saviors of
Rock and the greatest thing to come out of England since John, Paul, George
and Ringo (or Benny Hill). That’s exactly what happened to Alex Turner and his
high school pals that make up the Arctic Monkeys. Five years on since their
debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the boys have done
their best to live up to the hype without being crushed by it. Their latest, Suck
It and See
, is a step in the dark direction. Whereas their early records
were about bouncy, fast ass shaking lines, Suck It sounds like their
attempt to wear big boy pants in the rock and roll world. And it comes with
mostly good results.


The switch got flipped with
2009’s Humbug, a textured landscape produced by Queens
of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures frontman Josh Homme. The trip to the
desert has apparently set up a change in the Monkeys’ DNA; they’ve returned to
civilization to make an album that sounds like they’ve locked themselves in a
windowless room, smoked giant spliffs and alternated records by Bowie, Sabbath,
The Smiths and Psychedelic Furs on a broken-down turntable. What has emerged is
an airy, strangely unsettling, atmospheric – and at times, shockingly beautiful
– album.


From the opening lines of “Thunderstorms”
it’s strikingly clear that these boys have grown tired of playing “I Bet You
Look Good on the Dance floor”; the band is moving past jangle and speed to
embrace a love of Johnny Marr-inspired guitar lines. Tides have shifted; the
Monkeys have grown as musicians; and now, in their twenties, they are beginning
to actually become the band they were said to already be years ago.


The one thing that hasn’t changed,
however, is lead man Alex Turner’s smart mouth. Rapid fire lines like
“Nip/dip/dogshit rock and roll” from the track “Library Pictures” and “That’s
not a skirt, girl, that’s a sawn-off shotgun/ And I can only hope it’s aimed at
me” from the title track, show that the young Mr. Turner is both clever and
daring with his words. Though he may not be in the same lyrical strata as McCartney,
Westerberg or Old Bill Shakespeare, he does have the snot-nosed attitude
befitting rock’s upper crust.


Suck It and See has some bounce left for fans of the
just-out-of-puberty Arctic Monkeys, tons for those of us who like a little evil
grin with our rock ‘n’ roll and for provocateurs of bands just beginning to
break the seal on their potential. Suck It and See isn’t completely
there, but when listening to it, you sure can hear the giants rumbling just
beyond the horizon.


and See,” “Library Pictures” DANNY R. PHILLIPS

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