Under-the-radar Arctic Monkeys still trying to figure out how to make it inAmerica
How under-the-radar have British indie rock sensations Arctic Monkeys flown since hitting pay dirt with 2005 debut single, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," from debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not ?
As I was prepping to write this story I was all prepared to prattle on about how the group had avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. I was going to advise the quartet not to fall into the trap of making songs on new album Suck It And See sound like cut-rate copies of past single successes in effort to re-captialize on that success (in other words, don't pull a Smashmouth).
Then I started doing some research and realized that Suck It And See was the fourth album by the Arctic Monkeys!
Huh? How did that happen?
While the Arctic Monkeys have done a steady business across the pond with quick, jangly hits like "Leave Before the Lights Come On," "Brainstorm" and "Flourescent Adolescent," they have made less of a mark on the American charts than Rebecca Black did with that silly "It's Friday" ditty.
The last time I heard from lead singer Alex Turner and the rest of the Monkeys they were the toast of SXSW in Austin back in 2006. (Wow, it doesn't seem that long ago.) Since then the band has released a second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), and a third album Humbug (2009) before the June release of Suck It And See.
At first I assumed I had fallen down on my journalistic duties. How could these British darlings release two albums without so much as making a blip on the radar of a guy who follows music for a living? Then I started looking at the charts and realized that the key word in that question was British.
While the Arctic Monkeys have done a steady business across the pond with quick, jangly hits like "Leave Before the Lights Come On," "Brainstorm" and "Flourescent Adolescent," they have made less of a mark on the American charts than Rebecca Black did with that silly "It's Friday" ditty. Of their 10 singles from their first three albums, the best showing on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts is No. 114.
These same singles were regularly racing to Top 10 position on the British charts which harkens back to a time before the Internet and TV when England would find out about bands like The Kinks and the Rolling Stones a year before the U.S. teenagers had a clue.
It also means that either the Arctic Monkeys are a great band and that U.S. indie-rock listeners have tin ears, or that the Arctic Monkeys (and their PR handlers) haven't figured out a way to penetrate this market. With that in mind, I would like to propose a new strategy for them: Get heard.
The only thing worse than plagiarizing your own singles for Smashmouth-like deja vu is not being heard at all. If you have to make another "I Hope You Look Good On The Dancefloor," so be it. And if you have to play that song three times during the show at the House of Blues on Wednesday to keep momentum... do it.
Suck It And See is a good start. Not only is it the greatest album title of the year so far, but the American entertainment morality police are sticking covers over the title in certain markets to ensure that every kid is drawn to it like its a forbidden cigarette or one of dad's "Don't touch those!" beers in the fridge.
Arctic Monkeys, Wednesday 8 p.m. at House of Blues