Review Summary: What appears to be such a strong album after upon the first listen it quickly ends up having little to fall back on once the novelty has worn off; it’s only the few standout tracks (Black Treacle, Library Pictures) that stop Suck It And See becoming the
12 capital letters, bold Helvetica and a beige canvas. If any combination of artwork and words could fully represent the Arctic Monkey’s outlook on this album it is that; the blandest of bland styles that spells a most enticing command and nothing more. Whilst this level of tenacity could be seen as overtly divisive on Humbug it works in favour of Suck It & See and as we find out, it’s an album that needs any head start it can get.
She’s Thunderstorms opens the album in with wavering guitars and vocals that snake their way around hopelessly obtuse lyrics, offering little clue as to a meaning or message; a group of characteristics that quickly become running themes. Drummer Helder’s vocal debut on Brick By Brick is a playful anthem that is shallow by the bands own admission and this is backed up by the duo of Don’t Sit Down and Library Pictures which have a clear focus on the chaos of the music opposed to catchy turn of phrase.
Still, songs like Piledriver Waltz and Black Treacle give an airing for Turner’s ability to write three minute pop songs; it’s this talent that out of which the majority of Suck It And See has sprung and while his songcraft can only be admired it does lead to a slight imbalance which isn’t helped by a dodgy tracklisting. The album runs with energy up until Reckless Serenade, where a slew of murky ballads in the later half start to merge into one; this only goes to obscure the gem of a closing track that would’ve had a lot more impact if given a slightly more congruent tracklisting.
While Suck It And See is a good attempt at development it lacks the sustained focus that previous Monkey’s albums have had; the music is a well written and a natural progression however; when the majority of the songwriting has drawn from the same inspirations and styles there’s a strong reliance on lyrical depth to give each song its identity and for the first time in the history of the band, it isn’t there! Quickening canoes and spangled “shalalalas” might have their emotional context to the band but such abstract wording can never offer the weighted story telling they perfected in numbers like Dance Little Liar and If You Were There, Beware. What appears to be such a strong album after upon the first listen it quickly ends up having little to fall back on once the novelty has worn off; it’s only the few standout tracks (Black Treacle, Library Pictures) that stop Suck It And See becoming the first blot on so far immaculate catalogue.