Arctic Monkeys – "Suck It and See"

Released 6 June 2011

Time is relative, or so we’re told. Personally, time often appears like an elderly relative, one who never takes the hints and polite coughs while rooting around the cupboards for another slice of Mr Kipling.

For Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys, time has merrily zipped along to such an extent they sound (and not to be cruel, but look) middle aged only 5 years into their steep career ascent. “Suck It and See”, studio album four, is as mature and measured as 2006 debut “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” is furious and eccentric. More precise, and certainly more melodic than its immediate predecessor, the somewhat ill-advised “Humbug” from two years ago, “Suck It and See” captures the lads in fine musical and lyrical confidence.

Working with James Ford has brought a character to these songs that instantly recall his work with the Klaxons for their “Myths of the Near Future”. Very early on in “Brick by Brick” is an echo from “Gravity’s Rainbow” which underlines and emboldens an already nifty garage belter. The sweet “Piledriver Waltz” and wry “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” recall the most humble balladry from the debut, the blokes-do-cry songs richly filled with linguistic charms and surprises. “You look you’ve gone from breakfast in the Heartbreak Hotel / and sat at the back room by the pamphlets and the literature” from “Piledriver Waltz” holds its own against Morrissey at his most resigned. There are countless others – the title track especially ensures Alex Turner retains his reputation as one of the best current songwriters of his generation.

Bands settle at their most comfortable – Gomez, The Coral – and here the Arctic Monkeys have a lot more in common with these bands of depth, breadth and competence than the chancers who drew up to the stage in a battered old van with over-ripe choruses. Here’s to somebody working on a new album sleeve design sometime soon, mind…