Returning home after their Josh Homme-directed voyage into the desert, Arctic Monkeys get back to basics on their fourth album, Suck It and See. The journey is figurative: Suck It was recorded not in Sheffield, but in Los Angeles, with their longtime producer James Ford, who conjures a sound not unlike the one he captured on the band’s 2007 sophomore set Your Favourite Worst Nightmare. Homme may be gone but he’s not forgotten, not when the group regularly trades in fuzztones and heavy-booted stomps, accentuating their choruses with single-note guitar runs lifted from the Pixies. Ultimately, all these thick tones provide color on a set of songs trimmed of fatty excess and reliant on sturdy melodicism, arriving via the guitar hooks and sung melodies. Naturally, in a setting without frills, Alex Turner's lyrics are also pushed to the forefront, more so than they were on Humbug, and he shows no signs of slack, still displaying an uncanny ear for conversational rhythms and quick-witted puns. If Suck It and See is missing anything, it’s a powerhouse single. “Brick by Brick” contains a crushing riff and “Don’t Sit Down Because I Moved Your Chair” pulses with an insinuating menace, but neither are knockouts, they’re growers that get stronger with repeated spins. And in that sense, they’re quite representative of the album as a whole: Suck It and See may be at the opposite end of the spectrum from Humbug -- it’s concentrated and purposeful where its predecessor sprawled -- yet it still demands attention from the listener, delivering its rewards according to just how much time you’re willing to devote.
Suck It and See Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine