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Light and airy, filmic but intimate, carefully arranged but deceptively power-ful, “Suck It and See” is Arctic Monkeys’ fourth album. Recorded at Sound City Studios in Los Angeles with long-time producer/ collaborator James Ford, it has a summery pop feel: with the bulk of work completed on the West Coast during January, it’s got the feel-good sound of stealing some winter sun, some out of season Vitamin D. ‘Everyone was in a really good mood when we were there,’ says Alex Turner; ‘so I think the fact we were having a laugh comes across. When I’ve played it to friends they’ve said “it sounds like you’re having a really good time”, I think we wanted it to sound quite fun and up, not too serious’. ‘It were more about making it more of a trip and an experience I suppose, going somewhere to do the record,’ says Matt Helders about the decision to record in LA; ‘we knew we wanted to go somewhere and do it and it were gray and horrible here’. Alex: ‘We were there for five weeks, a good stretch. But it were different to the last album when we went out to the desert and it was really all about that experience and feeling far away’. ‘We were looking at places to record and that one seemed to tick all the boxes. The studio we were in (Sound City) there’s been some greats… there’s a really good drum room, that was a big draw, it’s where they did “Nevermind” [Nir-vana].’ ‘They were all saying it’s the best drum room in the world,’ adds Matt, ‘so it was a bit of pressure, no excuse to fuck it up!! Laughter better play something good then!’ For “Suck It and See” the Monkeys changed the way they work, as Alex ex-plains: ‘the plan this time was to get the songs together early on and have them be the guide. In the past perhaps it’s come from a riff or like different drum parts kicking around and then we’d piece it together. This time we’ve thought a lot more about what each finished song required in terms of its musical parts and the best way to realise it. We have done a little bit of that before but perhaps not as much as on this one.’ Suiting the album’s pop approach, “Suck It and See” is much more arranged than the last album, “Humbug”, with Jamie Cook’s guitar a particular revela-tion: adding flavour, excitement and a variety of textures in short bursts. Alex: ‘I suppose just that it was a decision to try and make things as simple as pos-sible, to get the sounds together and then try and do as little as we could and leave quite a lot of space and not do a lot of overdubs and organs’. By distilling the sounds of Franz Ferdinand, the Clash, the Strokes, and the Libertines into a hybrid of swaggering indie rock and danceable neo-punk, Arctic Monkeys became one of the U.K.’s biggest bands of the new millennium. Their meteoric rise began in 2005, when the teenagers fielded offers from major labels and drew a sold-out crowd to the London Astoria, using little more than a selfreleased EP as bait. Several months later, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not became the fastest-selling debut album in British history, entrenching Arctic Monkeys in the same circle as multi-platinum acts like Oasis and Blur. Frontman Alex Turner and guitarist Jamie Cook began their music careers in 2001, when the friends both received guitars for Christmas. Two years later, they began performing shows around their native Sheffield with drummer Matt Helders and bassist Andy Nicholson, two fellow students at Stocksbridge High School. A series of demo recordings followed, and Arctic Monkeys’ audience swelled as fans circulated those recordings via the Internet. The musicians soon found themselves at the center of a growing media circus, with such outlets as BBC Radio examining the band’s music and mounting hype. By distributing their homemade material on the Internet, Arctic Monkeys were able to build a sizable fan base without the help of a record label, effectively circumventing the usual road to superstardom. They continued to buck tradition by signing with Domino Records in 2005, eschewing a major label’s budget for Domino’s D.I.Y. cred and hip roster (which also included Franz Ferdinand, a touchstone for the band’s sound). The smart moves paid off as Arctic Monkeys’ first two singles — “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and “When the Sun Goes Down” — both topped the U.K. charts. Critical reception was similarly favorable, but few could have predicted the whirlwind success of the band’s debut album, which ousted Oasis’ Definitely Maybe as the fastest-selling debut in British history (a record that was broken one year later by Leona Lewis’ Spirit). Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not sold 363,735 copies during its first week alone, transforming Arctic Monkeys from underground stars into mainstream figures. Arctic Monkeys’ debut sold approximately 300,000 total copies in America — enough to warrant more media coverage, but notably less than the album’s British sales during its first week alone. Nevertheless, their success continued as they released a spring EP, Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys, and prepared for a stateside tour. Temporary bassist Nick O’Malley was brought aboard for the band’s American shows, while a fatigued Nicholson stayed at home. Nicholson then announced his official departure when the band returned home in June 2006, and O’Malley remained with Arctic Monkeys as a permanent member. That fall, the guys received the 2006 Mercury Prize and donated the accompanying money to an undisclosed charity. Additional accolades included Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards and Best New Band at the NME Awards. NME also made a bold assertion by deeming the band’s debut one of the Top Five British albums ever released. Released in April 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare updated Arctic Monkeys’ sound with louder instruments and faster tempos. The bandmates had recorded the sophomore album quickly, wishing to return to the road as soon as possible, and the speedy turnaround between records helped maintain the band’s popularity at home. Favourite Worst Nightmare sold 85,000 copies during its first day of release, and all 12 tracks entered the Top 200 of the U.K. singles charts. As Alex Turner briefly turned his attention to a side project, the Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkeys received another Mercury Prize nomination and took home two titles at the 2008 Brit Awards. Recording sessions for a third album commenced in early 2008 and lasted throughout the year, with producers James Ford (who previously worked with Turner on the Last Shadow Puppets’ album) and Josh Homme (frontman of Queens of the Stone Age) adding some newfound heft to the band’s sound. Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys released a concert album entitled At the Apollo — with accompanying video footage captured on 35mm film — before unveiling Humbug in August 2009. Humbug went platinum in the U.K. but failed to produce a Top Ten hit, with “Crying Lightning” peaking at number 12 and “Cornerstone” topping out at 94. The band hit the road that February, kicking off a multi-leg tour that ran through the rest of the year. After playing another handful of shows in early 2010, the guys took a short hiatus before reconvening with James Ford for their fourth album. Sessions began that fall, and the resulting Suck It and See arrived in spring 2011. Meanwhile, Turner also wrote music for a Richard Ayoade film, Submarine, whose soundtrack doubled as the frontman’s first solo release.


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