The Hang of Music: All My Own Words

We interrupt your scheduled viewing to bring you: modern music!

This week, I have decided to take a step closer to actual music reviews than ever before: I’m going to review something that came out this year. And something that is actually mainstream!

Because you’d need to be renting an apartment under a rock to not know who the Arctic Monkeys are, and to have lived there since 2006 to boot. And this year they have released album number 4, “Suck It And See”, and I intend to have an opinion on it. (The fact that I have tickets to see them is irrelevant.)

To coincide with this new trend of mainstream-ness, have their lead single!

“She’s Thunderstorms”, track one on the album, makes me have to say something that I’m probably going to keep saying ’til I sound like a broken record. The song doesn’t really sound like the Arctic Monkeys. I understand that Alex Turner has a thing for 60s pop, and that’s great. But it used to be that Arctic Monkeys sounded newer than new, and now a lot of their stuff sounds like it’s a relic from 50 years ago. And that wouldn’t be at all a bad thing if there was a vestige of what they used to sound like. But I’m waiting to hear it.

Almost as if they’re trying to read my mind, Black Treacle comes on, and reminds me that Turner can still write lyrics that make me smile. And there are a few, if few enough, other tracks on the album that do the same. The hilariously over-extended metaphor on Piledriver Waltz is worth more than a chuckle. Similarly, the track titles are brilliant. Some of them won’t translate well in other countries*, but I don’t care – Love is a Laserquest is an awesome title.

I say few enough, because “Brick By Brick”, one of the other singles, seems to have no lyrics at all, besides the title. Reckless Serenade is also pretty guilty of this, after the first minute and a half.

One of the things I’ve noticed on this album is they’re talking about Rock and Roll a lot, and I wonder if I’m the only person who thinks that’s a bad sign. Considering how, apart from the songs which are about “RAWK N ROLE”, the content of the rest of them just seems to be “the girl that he’s in love with”.

I’m a bit young to feel nostalgic, but I remember when their songs used to be about more than just that. They used to be about seeing crappy bands, and old school friends that you’ve lost touch with, and getting a ride back from the pub in a taxi. On “Suck It and See”, the tracks seem to be mostly one big soupy… soup thing of love and quasi-poetic-ness. With a side order of “Ooohs” andArrrs“. A double helping, methinks.

Despite all this, there are some good tunes on here. The last two, the eponymous “Suck It And See” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong” are really nice, beachy songs, and I’ll be quite honest – if Library Pictures wasn’t/isn’t a single, then I’ll lose all faith in the the singles business.

Oh, who am I kidding? That happened years ago… It sounds like it should have been on “Favourite Worst Nightmare”, and in fact even sounds like the twin of “If You Found This It’s Probably Too Late”, B-side Commander General from “Brianstorm”.**

Let me get this one thing straight: variety is the spice of life, and bands should always attempt to provide something new. When they released “Whatever People Say I Am…”, they had a unique sound. When they released “Favourite Worst Nightmare” they took that sound, and changed it. They changed it a lot, but album one was clearly where they started from. Then, “Humbug” was different again, but much, much more markedly.

They seem to be going for a specifically pick and mix sweets theme with their albums.

I loved their first two albums, but if they’d just produced those same albums again, I would be pretty annoyed. I love that they go off and try to do new things. But that’s not enough – you’ve also got to have something that’s yours.  It’s a cutthroat industry, and I’m sorry, but it IS difficult to walk that particular tightrope.

And this is neither different enough from “Humbug”, nor enough like the witty, smart and sharp them that you often see, for me to fully enjoy it. There’s some good stuff on here, and none of it’s specifically bad. I just don’t think it sounds like them.

If you think that their third album was their best, and you were left wondering why they ever bothered with that guitary rock before, then you’ll love this. Probably. But if, like me, you found “Humbug” to be alright, but a little too dull, then warm up the emotions you used last time: you’ll need them again soon.

P.S. In other news, Moral Guardians in America have banned/covered up/in other ways censored the album for having an apparently lewd title. Says the man himself:

“They think it is rude, disrespectful and they’re putting a sticker over it in America in certain stores, big ones”

Do I even need to say “In America” about this? Where else in The West would it happen? Down, Bandit Keith!

* An important consideration, if you want to sell an album in probably every single country on Earth.

** Yes, yes: I’m discussing Arctic Monkeys B-sides. I’m aware that this makes me a total music nerd with no life. I turn to the dork side so you don’t have to.

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Posted on October 13, 2011, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. More guitar and more rock you say? i may have to give it a listen! However, having not thought much of “Favourite Worst Nightmare” and “Humbug”, but falling in love with “Whatever people say I am…” instantly….it sounds like I’m probably not going to like it!

    I totally agree with the whole unique sound/new things view though! It’s similar with Chili Peppers. They have always had a unique sound, and the new album still kinda has it….but it’s getting kinda boring, or maybe they’ve tried to mix new with old. Still an enjoyable listen, but no kick to it 😦

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