ARCTIC MONKEYS – Suck It And See (Domino)

If you are a fan you will probably have this already, but if you are still undecided about whether to invest then read on. Universally hailed as a return to form, can I be the lone dissenting voice who says that I actually quite liked ‘Humbug’, and always felt that it was a progression that the band needed. Josh Homme did a good job at injecting a bit of power into the band, and there were a load of great songs on there. For some reason, no-one else agreed, and the band seem to have taken the criticism to heart and come back with a re-tread of their debut album. Now while this is apparently what a lot of people wanted, am I the only one who sees this as a massive step backwards. The controversy over the minimal artwork has also detracted attention from the music, so all in all I think we have something of a Marmite situation here – a lot of people love it and a lot are not so sure. To the music then. ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ starts off well enough, with a good chorus and pared back verses, while ‘Black Treacle’ keeps something of the ‘Humbug’ vibe in its guitar-work, as does ‘Brick By Brick’, which was the first that most people heard of the album when released as a taster single. Once again, it is OK, but lyrically there is very little to it, and it is only the guitar solo that stands out. ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ was the other pre-release taster, and while it had more to it in the lyric department I think it sounded more ‘Humbug’ than ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ ‘Library Pictures’ is more like it, and the first time that a song really jumps out at me, and ‘All My Own Stunts’ carries this on, featuring some fine guitar-work from Jamie Cook. ‘Piledriver Waltz’ is a re-recording of Turner’s contribution to the ‘Submarine’ soundtrack, and considering that it was not specifically written for this album it slots in quite well. ‘Love Is A Laserquest’ is one of Turner’s wordier pieces, and consequently the tune is less memorable, meaning the jangly guitar doesn’t really have anywhere to go. The title track gets things back on track, being a nice little country-tinged rocker, and ‘That’s Where You’re Wrong’ has some nice guitar flourishes poking out between the words. So, not a total disaster, but for me it didn’t really take off until halfway through, and while the opening batch of tracks might be catchy and hummable, I also feel that you could very quickly get bored of them, and it is some of the later songs that will stand repeated plays. It will be interesting to see where the band go next – will they treat ‘Humbug’ as an aberration and carry on with the pop stuff, or will they feel the need to progress down a different route. We will have to wait and see.