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Arctic Monkeys wrote the album throughout 2010, with Alex Turner writing the majority of the songs in New York, and the rest in London. Rather than repeat the heavily produced, studio production style, and darker sound of Humbug, the band's previous effort, much of the album was recorded in live takes with minimal overdubs, with producer James Ford in Los Angeles, California, over five weeks in January/February 2011. Alex Turner has commented that rather than going into the studio with only rough sketches of songs, and making heavy use of overdubbing, the band focused much of their time rehearsing written songs together, coming up with new ideas in the process.
The band settled on Suck It and See as the title after debating between titles such as The Rain-Shaped Shimmer Trap, The Thunder-Suckle Fuzz Canyon, The Blond-O-Sonic Rape Alarm, and Thriller, according to a band interview in the NME.
The track "Piledriver Waltz" was first released on Alex Turner's debut EP, Submarine, where it was credited to Turner as a solo artist, featuring Ford on drums. The version included on Suck It and See is a re-recording with the whole band involved.
A music video for "Brick by Brick" was released shortly before the album details were revealed on 10 March. However, Matt Helders confirmed that "Brick by Brick" would not be the lead single.
Four singles were released to promote the album. The lead single, "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair", was released digitally on 12 April 2011, and on 16 April three thousand 7" vinyl copies were released worldwide by the band as part of Record Store Day, backed with "Brick by Brick". It was given a wider release on 30 May 2011, available on 10" vinyl and digital download with backed with "The Blond-O-Sonic Shimmer Trap" and "I.D.S.T.", and on 7" vinyl, backed with "I.D.S.T.".
Suck It and See received positive reviews from critics, with an average 74% rating at Metacritic. The album has also been successful commercially. In its first week of release the album debuted at number 1 in the United Kingdom, selling over 82,000 units and knocking Lady Gaga's Born This Way off the top spot. In its second week the album sold a further 34,910 units in the UK. Overall the album sold 154,000 units in its first week worldwide. NME named the album cover, an artwork free cream monochrome after the styling of The Beatles' White Album, as one of the worst in history. In July, the album won Mojo award for the Best Album of 2011. Mojo placed the album at number 39 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011." On 30 May, a week before official release Domino Records streamed the entire album on SoundCloud. Within a few hours of being made public the first two tracks had reached over 10,000 listens each, and by the end of the week each had accrued over 100,000 plays.
In the United States the title on the cover sleeve was covered by a sticker in certain big-box retailers. In an interview with British radio station XFM, lead singer Alex Turner said, "They think it is rude, disrespectful and they're putting a sticker over it in America in certain stores, big ones." The English idiom "suck it and see" means that something must be tried first, appearing, for example, in a 2010 The Economist headline and (as "suck 'em and see") in the advertising slogan of Fisherman's Friend lozenges.