I seem to think of the Arctic Monkeys a bit like my grandma. When I was younger, she used to spoil my three siblings and myself. It was always great to go to Nan’s house, because you knew we’d get heaps of lollies and chocolates. The kind of things that Mum wouldn’t let us have. As we got older, Nan got older too and grew increasingly senile, to the point that a visit to see her these days ends with her telling the same story about 10 times. You can try arguing with her, but in the end you just agree so you can get out of there without losing your sanity. To summarise this analogy, Arctic Monkeys exploded with rocking choruses and catchy melodies, the candy and chocolate of the music world. But they’ve changed to this darker sound, and judging by some of the song titles on their latest album Suck It and See, they’ve also lost some of their marbles. But
the most important part of this analogy is that I still love them. Both the Arctic Monkeys and my Nan.
For those experienced Monkeys fans, Suck It and See is not as heavy as Humbug, but still not as fetching as their first two albums. It is the Autumn between Summer (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not) and Winter (Humbug). Even Favourite Worst Nightmare fits the Spring metaphor, creating a calendar year of Arctic Monkeys’ albums. No one ever really likes Autumn to start with. Summer’s over, it’s getting colder, Ricky Ponting’s just announced he’ll keep playing for Australia for another year, and you only have tickets to Groovin’ the Moo in your festival ticket draw. But as it draws on, you start to realise Autumn’s not too bad. You notice the colours in the trees, the AFL season’s starting and the Splendour lineup has been announced. At first listen, Library Pictures was ridiculously strange. “Library Pictures of a quickening canoe, the first of its kind to get to the moon.” WHAT?! Unfortunately, I still have no clue what this means, but now at least I appreciate its quirkiness and find it somewhat humourous.
Now that I’m all ‘metaphor’ed out, Suck It and See is definitely working with me. I will continue to vent at the stupid song titles – She’s Thunderstorms, The Hellcat Spangled Shalala, Piledriver Waltz and Love is a Laserquest, for example – but the songs themselves are reasonably solid. There are no emotional ballads – like 505, or Mardy Bum – but just solid moody rock.
This review is incredibly biased, mainly because Arctic Monkeys are one of my very favourite bands, but I would still recommend it too a rock fan.