Given that it’s less than 20 months since ‘Humbug’, the band’s third record, was released, this might seem like something of an overblown and unnecessary bugle call, made all the more gratuitous by the fact that it’s only five years and two months since the band’s epic debut first blew unsuspecting minds.
Weigh this up against the five and a half years that it took The Stone Roses to follow up their own equally seminal debut, and it’s clear that the Monkeys are what you might term prolific.
Arctic Monkeys on new album ‘Suck It And See’ – video interview:
The clamour, of course, is not that Arctic Monkeys are back with a new album – you’d have to be a particularly needy and stabby superfan to feel like two years is too long a break for a band – but that they’re back in the groove, back with a smile, and back doing exactly what they do best – namely recording an album full of wry observations, A-list playlist singles and massive poppy hooks.
The Stone Roses, on the other hand, were never really ‘back’. While NME’s Paul Stokes made a strong case for why ‘Second Coming’ is an underrated and undervalued record on this site last week, it was a grave, serious and massively over thought-out album – the antithesis of everything that made their debut the classic it remains.
And this is what the tub-thumping for Arctic Monkeys’ return is all about, because what ‘Suck It And See’ represents is a return to the Monkeys of old. Gone are the beards, the too-old-too-soon seriousface, the desert rock and peyote trip claustrophobia of ‘Humbug’ – eschewed in favour of quick-rattle British psych-pop, the next step on their seemingly endless evolution.
So was this necessary to save the band? Well, yes and no. It’s not like ‘Humbug’ was a terrible record – far from it – just that it was purposely impenetrable for the less than committed fan, and in that sense, by returning to what they know best, the Monkeys have hoiked themselves away from the self-indulgent abyss they flirted with disappearing into.
Think Rolling Stones and ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’, royally slaughtered as a ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ wannabe, heading back to their bluesy basics with ‘Beggar’s Banquet’. Or Bowie’s R&B opus ‘Young Americans’ following up the decidedly patchy ‘Diamond Dogs’.
What about Weller’s ‘Wake Up The Nation’ coming post- ’22 Dreams’, or the seven year wait for Morrissey’s ‘You Are The Quarry’ after ‘Maladjusted’? Basically, the list of ‘back from the brink’ records is endless.
So go on, what are your favourite comeback albums? Best one wins a personality crisis.
Read all about Arctic Monkeys’ new album ‘Suck It And See’ in the new issue of NME