The Arctic Monkeys are back.
The band recently announced their fourth full-length record, Suck It and See, which is due to be released on June 7th. The first single, “Brick by Brick,” was released a few days prior to the news. The single was accompanied by a music video, which mainly features a girl spinning a record, with sporadic shots of the now bearded band thrown in. The track is sure to excite fans who missed the upbeat nature of their debut, 2007’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, and were bummed out by the sometimes depressing slow-burn of Humbug, which for the record was my favorite album of 2009. However, fans of their new, more mature sound from Humbug will be pleased as it seems the boys have managed to fuse the lessons they learned on instrumentation from Humbug producer Joshua Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age, with the attitude of their early releases.
The track, which was produced by long-time collaborator James Ford, begins with the dirty guitar thrashings of rhythm guitarist Jamie Cook and lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Turner. The tone here contains all the swagger of early work by The Rolling Stones. After the brief intro, the always distinguishable Turner comes in, singing about how he wants to build someone up, break them down, reconstruct them and finally feel their love. The verse is rather simplistic but it is important as it shows the band returning to their roots, with the lessons they learned still in use. All of Turner’s singing is supplemented by the droning background vocals of drummer Matt Helders, who almost mumbles “Brick by Brick” after each one of Turner’s lines. It is instantly memorable and will surely get the crowd singing along on the band’s upcoming tour.
The chorus of “Brick by Brick (ahhhhhh)” shows the instrumentation the band learned in the desert, which is only further proven by the solo in between the chorus and second verse. Also noticeable is the fuzz bass played by the always under appreciated Nick O’Malley, who is for my money one of the best bassists in modern alternative music. The rhythm section is rounded out by Helders here, who doesn’t perform at the breakneck speed of 2007’s “Brianstorm” from the band’s second record Favourite Worst Nightmare, but instead shows admirable technical prowess. Many often ignored parts of the drum kit are utilized in the beat here.
One of my few gripes here is that the lyrics are nothing to write home about, contradicting Turner’s past history for being one of the better lyricists around. Hopefully this isn’t a trend throughout the rest of Suck It and See.
When the song reaches the bridge and slows nearly to a halt, the song spirals down into Humbug territory and becomes downright filthy. I fell in love with the track at this point, and I suspect anyone who liked Humbug will as well. The solo can’t be explained in any terms other than dirty. This is all enhanced by the deeper, slower delivery by Turner. The deceleration is short lived, as the song ends with a repeat of the chorus.
While the song falters from some poor lyrics, nearly everything else about “Brick by Brick” is perfect, making it one of the better singles by the band. If Suck It and See can retain the instrumentation here and supply us with some better lyrics, it could prove to be their best album.
Tracklisting for Suck It and See, due for release June 7th on Domino Records:
01. She’s Thunderstorms
02. Black Treacle
03. Brick by Brick
04. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
05. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
06. Library Pictures
07. All My Own Stunts
08. Reckless Serenade
09. Piledriver Waltz
10. Love is a Laserquest
11. Suck It and See
12. That’s Where You’re Wrong