Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Arctic Monkeys: Suck It and See

     If you don't know who the Arctic Monkeys are by now, then you've been living under a sound-proof rock for the past nine years. Indie rock quartet lead by Alex Turner, and whose first album remains the fastest selling debut in British history, are under debate by many. Their first and second albums are definitely their best, with 'Humbug' a less infectious third. The question poised on everyone's lips is 'will this  latest twelve track return then to their former glory?' They're on the right path, but are just not quite at the end of it.
     A comparison to their earlier work then. Humbug, which you may or may not have enjoyed, did show the mature side to the band, trading in the catchy and infectious for the darker, moodier tracks. On this latest release, the Arctic Monkey's have taken a step back to try and re-enter the light that emerged from their first two records, throwing in the hooks and accomplished lyricism that made the original albums great. The problem I have, is that when these four guys emerged with 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not', it was a post-punk revivalist effort that was one of the first modern albums acclaimed for it's journey into the weird. That was a while ago, and now, I must admit I'm slightly underwhelmed by this album's convention. Still, there is much to love!
     Released as singles are the worst tracks on this record, which baffles me in a way. 'Brick by Brick' is a suffocating garage rock song with misplaced backing vocals and lyrics about wanting to 'rock and roll'. C'mon, but that to me seems like laziness regarding subject matter. The hook and guitar leads aren't badly done, but the song oozes a yawn inducing concept that has been done over and over again. The second, 'Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair' is, well... just look at the title. The lyrics on this track, and on the album in general feel very corny in places. I was impressed at first by the strong, prominent riffs and power to the vocals on this track, but on repeated listen I got bored. There is hardly anything original on this record, if I'm honest. Memorable hooks that you can hum along to are thrown in, but are surrounded by stuff that has been done before, and in my mind done better.
     Now for the good remarks, even if there are very few. 'Piledriver Waltz' is one of my favourite songs, with a melody that is head and shoulders above the other eleven tracks. The story behind the track is also fantastic, which I love. The closer to this record is also pretty nice, and not just because it marks the end of the forty minutes that make up the album. Overall though, the sounds on this album feel outdated, emulating the pop tunes and sensibilities not seen in the band's third record. This factor to the music, on reflection, makes me feel as though the Arctic Monkeys are trying to reminisce and remember the old, rather than create something new, which is fine. A step in the right direction for the band I reckon, creeping away from their later work and heading more towards the feel we got when the group first exploded onto the music scene. A lukewarm effort from a band many admire, I'm not disappointed as such, but would have appreciated more originality and maturity than what I heard. If you're a fan, check the album, but don't expect to be blown away.