Arctic Monkeys may have insisted that their fourth album ‘Suck It And See’ was “a bit more poppy” than the windswept desert rock of ‘Humbug’ but even before it was released the new album had been causing ructions.
Whether that was the left-of-centre choice (and by that we mean: “Matt-Helders-sung- of-track-of-faux-rock-oddness”) of ‘Brick By Brick’ for first released track, the saucy album title, deemed “rude and disrespectful” by some double entendre-hating US supermarkets, or the minimalist cover which left us pretty unimpressed.
But back to the album contents itself. NME’s Barry Nicholson thought that they’d “aced” the follow up to ‘Humbug’, giving it an epic 9/10. He was enraptured by Alex Turner’s love-themed lyricism saying that is was “an album in love with language”. He added that the “band know exactly where they’re going. Four albums in, and they’ve yet to shed so much as an ounce of purpose or inspiration.”
Steve Kandell at Spin gave the album a firm 8/10, saying that the their ‘Humbug’ pose was slightly unbelievable and ‘Suck It And See’ was a return to their core values. He said it “blends the deliberateness of (‘Humbug’) with the fleet-footedness of their still-stunning 2006 debut ‘Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ and follow-up ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’.”
Alexis Petridis over at the Guardian spent much of his review pondering the strange place that the Monkeys have found themselves at. He says ‘Humbug’ had resulted in them “losing a chunk of their audience”. However, he echoed Steve Kandell’s sentiment that ‘Suck It And See’ sees them finding their focus again. He said: “Arctic Monkeys make for more convincing purveyors of wistful guitar pop than they did South Yorkshire’s answer to Queens Of The Stone Age.” He gave the album a 4/5.
Meanwhile, James McMahon over at the BBC is less convinced that the album sees the band finding their way back to tunefulness. He calls it a “halfway house between where many expected them to be going, and where they were.” And where’s that? Well, in between the return of “actual tunes” and the “oblique”.
Similarly, Kitty Empire at The Observer adds a note of caution, saying that after the experimentation of ‘Humbug’ the band are “being hauled back into the safety of the British indie-rock fold. They are sounding less like the Queens (Of The Stone Age) and a touch more like ‘The Queen Is Dead’”. She gives it a 3/5.
Andy Gill at The Independent controversially questions Turner’s lyrical turn of phrase. He says that “Turner is having trouble bringing his once zestful imagination to bear on matter of the heart.” With a 3/5, he concludes that “the overall impression is of someone trying to disguise their true emotions with comic bluster.”
All in all it seems to be a respectable next step for the Monkeys, a success but an “approach with caution” one. Let us know what you make of it below.
Listen to Arctic Monkeys, ‘Suck It And See’: