Words: Dan Smith
Doesn’t nine years just fly by? To think I was only twelve years old when ‘Suck it and See’ was released honestly frightens me, but nevertheless it gives us the perfect opportunity to look back and discuss the often under-appreciated fourth studio album.
The Arctic Monkeys fan base is a very divided one. When ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ was released it almost split the fans down the middle, half of them loving the concept album stating it showed the bands new-found maturity, meanwhile other fans wished they would go back to the roots of ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. However, the bands evolution didn’t start at Tranquility Base, the bands sound has constantly evolved and changed throughout the albums.
‘Humbug’ was the first real change of tempo for AM, straying away from hard rocking indie music into a more fine tuned sound. This was a more meloncholic feel as can be heard in songs such as ‘Secret Door and Cornerstone’ and ‘Suck it and See’ takes the emotion of ‘Humbug’ and adds more themes of love and lust.
Sexual imagery is used even in the album name and this is a definitive theme throughout. However, the album provides way more than just sexual imagery, with most of the songs being romantic love songs influenced by classical country rock and roll.
In 2010, Alex Turner and Jamie Cook co-wrote the ‘Submarine E.P’ and in doing so, wrote a few of the tunes which have ended up on ‘Suck it and See.’ Only one song made it onto both however, this being fan favourite ‘Piledriver Waltz’.
Piledriver Waltz was the only tune to make both Submarine E.P and Suck it and See!
First of all, let me state that ‘Piledriver Waltz’ is arguably my favourite track on ‘Suck it and See’ although I do love the whole album. There are differences between the album version and the E.P version which are obvious upon first listen, not only due to the fact the album version had all four members in the band playing on it whereas the E.P only had Alex and Jamie.
The Submarine version uses different instruments and offers a more stripped back feel to it. The vocals are delicate on the ears and they are beautiful. The ‘Suck it and See’ version brings in more elements to it and thusly, seems deeper and darker. It’s testament to Alex Turner’s song writing ability that two versions of the same song can capture different emotions.
The E.P definitely makes me feel sadder than the album version, but it does somewhat bring me back to realisation. The studio version does put me in a different thought process however, making me happy yet, deep in thought.
Another strong track on the album is ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ which follows on from the weakest track on the album ‘Brick by Brick’. The wailing guitars instantly recapture the attention, before the bass on this track get you hooked. The lyrics are interesting also, “well did you ever get the feeling, that these are things she’s said before” are used in the bridge of the song, paying testament to the fact the chorus is primarily just ‘Shalalala’ repeated. The tone, along with the lyrics definitely make it one of the more catchy songs on the album.
Alex Turner pays homage to this track, stating that “a lot of our songs have loads of words” and this was a way for them to be more simple and economical in the chorus, yet still having the complexity of the verses. This is a great sing-along song and is incredible live. Honestly genius writing.
As a whole, this album has been quite influential and important to me growing up. When people talk about Arctic Monkeys, ‘Suck it and See’ is never the first album they go to, but for me, it should definitely always be in the conversation. It’s a difficult one isn’t it? Usually, when a band has released six studio albums you are able to decipher the best and the worst, but Arctic Monkeys are special in the fact everyone’s favourite album is different because they don’t do bad albums.
But if we were to go off what I see or hear when I speak to people or go online, I would say there is definitely a case to be made on ‘Suck it and See’ being Arctic Monkeys most underrated record.