Suck It And See, the 4th album by Alex Turner’s Arctic Monkeys, returns to sunnier territory after the paranoid, Homme produced (and under-appreciated) Humbug. This outing is slower paced than the previous releases but it’s also the most inviting, providing any doubters an opportunity to discover what Britain’s been buzzing on for years already.
It’s loaded with songs sticky-sweet and the slow down allows Turner to shine as a writer. She’s Thunderstorms is a tough. epic opener, setting the bar high and bristling with some of the best brit pop we’ve heard since the 90s. Imagine a stick of gum that never loses its flavor, or say, The La’s There She Goes. Liverpool’s iconic-indie band influence is felt from the get go and returns towards the album’s end. Turner’s croon gets caught up in the chorus’s harmonies, romantic and pounded by a steady fisted, marching drum beat. Proving the intro is no fluke, Black Treacle continues on with the sweet, romantic side of brit pop and glam rock. Brick by Brick through All My Own Stunts sets up familiar rock territory heard before. It provides a listening lull on first round-abouts but with repeat listening, it becomes a track listing set-up to a grand five finale.
What separates this commercially successful rock n’ roll band’s songs from others releasing the same sort-of commercial rock records (Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters & Edward Vedder’s Pearl Jam) is Alex Turner’s writing. An observer, and barely 25, has the gifts for writing acute pop, punk, british, folk and rock songs with mighty hooks like great UK songsmiths before him; see Ray Davies (The Kinks), Damon Albarn (Blur) and Paul Weller (The Jam). With Suck It And See he exposes a sunnier, heartbroken disposition that’s still charming and undeniably British. Even after abandoning the first two songs indication that this record was going to be a poppier affair, Turner’s writing is exciting & witty enough to paraphrase after a few more listens.
Library pictures of the quickening canoe
The first of its kind to get to the moon
Trust some eclipses to chase you
round the room
Through curly straws and metaphors and goo!
The sound indicated on the first two tracks returns for a five song ride out, that along with the openers, are worthy of its own 7-song E.P. extraction. Reckless Serenade, Piledriver Waltz, Love is a Laserquest , Suck It And See and That’s Where You’re Wrong are repeat play payoffs, exposing modern influences ranging from Nick Lowe to Richard Hawley. Turner’s croon returns to the forefront; heartbroken and contemplative he sings, Don’t worry, I’m sure that you’re still breaking hearts with the efficiency that only youth can harness. The title track’s romantic melody and lyrics are anything but ironic, as the title’s British slang may suggest. There isn’t a hint of irony in Turner’s confessions; I poured my heart into a pop song. I couldn’t get the hang of poetry and How I often wonder where you are. You’ve got that face that just says, Baby, I was made to break your heart also attacks from the heart.
For this record’s better half, it proves Turner—with or without the Arctic Monkeys—is going to be around a lot longer making efforts to write timeless, romantic, british pop songs. A young band that’s only 4 records in hasn’t made their best record yet; but with the amount of pop goosebumps Turner’s compositions dare to invite, this is pretty close.