There was a time where practically everything Arctic Monkeys did was seen as something both shocking and instantly titillating – in terms of their hype and exposure. Some credit them as proof of what internet hype can conjure, their first cover was a controversial discussion simply due to its smoking image and some questioned their motives in releasing music at a rapid pace. Through all of this foolish talk, there’s also the underrated aspect of their consistently great music. Some people say, “It’s not a win, until you’re consistent” and for Arctic Monkeys, they’ve been everything consistent and more in delivering three tremendous albums.
Trading in the stuffy production that Josh Homme assisted in creating on Humbug, the Sheffield-based band reunites with producer James Ford for Suck It and See’s new environments. For starters, the album was recorded at Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, where the band opted for rigorous studio sessions that found them seasoned in the music they were creating. On songs like “Reckless Serenade” the band sounds comfortably rich in its own skin with a shimmering guitar solo that excels in the lively arrangement. It’s obvious that they’ve opted to let the sun come shining in and where the suffocating effects of the production on Humbug are gone, the melodies continue to shine.
Those melodies – the same ones that have aided in crafting winners before – are still, ever-present on Suck It and See’s open spaces. “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” triumphs with an opening bliss of chords that rush in like the atmospheric reverb of Jesus and the Mary Chain. The ‘shalalala’ is a glorious way to induce the chorus and through more polished guitar, it’s Alex Turner’s lyrics that continue to impress. Poignantly stating the harshly obvious as he asks, “And did you ever get the feeling that these are things she’s said before?” the sparkling luster is in the band’s radiant delivery. Even earlier, to start things off, the band delivers what might be the album’s finest melody on “She’s Thunderstorms” with Turner’s dazzling guitar that remains a fluid constant throughout. The heavy electricity of the crash is felt through the pounding drums and in a breakthrough of openings: the band declares its newfound return to form with great direction.
All of this isn’t to say that Suck and It See’s predecessor is anything to scoff at either. Highlighted by a disparate style of production and conception (the band even noted how they made a deliberate effort to have as many of the songs written, rehearsed and well-known before they stepped into the studio to ensure a successful recording session) – there is very obviously a shift in formation to be realized. Regardless, whether it’s the re-creation of an old Turner solo into a lush and dreamy escape (“Piledriver Waltz”), grinding and forceful touches (“Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”), or a stomping, resounding ode to excellence (“Black Treacle”), the luster continues to burst through. And so while the design is a bit different, the result is still another awesome album to add to Arctic Monkeys’ arsenal.
Nowadays, everyone has to have a reason for everything and mostly, for Arctic Monkeys, the strongest reason behind the consistency of their music is their impeccable knack for melodies and discourse. So while they’ve spent most of their short career explaining why they record and release the way they do, it’s evident that their discography is outstanding and thrilling without doubt.