The album cover for Suck It and See, the fourth album by Arctic Monkeys, was censored by some retailers in the US for having too provocative a title. While this says more about the conservative nature of the US market than it does about the band, Suck It and See is an anaemic record and certainly not the sort of record you'd associate with being unfit for public consumption.
The Monkeys' previous record, 2009's Humbug, was more of darker release than Alex Turner and co. had become known for up until that point in their discography. The album, produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, was extremely hook-heavy and focussed more on crunchy, distorted guitar-centric music than its predecessors had. Turner, the Sheffield lad, had uprooted and moved to New York, got himself a celebrity girlfriend and Humbug was entirely representative of the shifting tides of both his career and his mindset.
Humbug, though, was poorly received. Perhaps that explains the decision the band made to go back to their roots and return to the sort of music they originally made in Sheffield, the city famous for its steel production. Sadly though, there's no steel in Suck It and See
The album begins promisingly with simplistic yet engaging She's Thunderstorms but it never seems to develop into the album it might have been. Too often the songs occupy a very treble-heavy range and, while the musicianship is undeniably strong, it lacks the texture and tactile nature of their past work. Occasionally the album steps outside of this range though, noticeably with the catchy Brick By Brick and the fierce Library Pictures. Reckless Serenade, too, is a wonderfully constructed, lovelorn song but the album's bright spots continually fail to eclipse the low points.
Turner is a compelling songwriter, always lyrically engaging has (deservedly) earned a place in the upper echelons of musicians that have come out of the United Kingdom in the past five years. That's what makes Suck It and See all the more disappointing - the idea that, while this isn't a bad album by any definition of the word, it could just have been so much better.