Three Point Perspective: Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
The long-awaited Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino graced us with its epic release last Friday. Without a single released prior to the Monkey’s first San Diego show at The Observatory North Park since AM’s 2013 release, fans were left with the question of what the new era would sound like. With Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino finally being released, there are several themes that are spread throughout the tracks such as the importance of cell phones in modern society, and the effects of fame. ‘Star Treatment’ kicks off the album with Alex reflecting on his past times before the fame. Followed by ‘One Point Perspective’, a much darker track which seems to involve questioning fame once again and how it affects the band. Both ‘American Sports’ and ‘The Ultracheese’ from the very first second consist of Johnny Cash and Bowie’s spacey vibes. There’s no surprise that the band decided to incorporate a tad of Bowie in their new album after The Last Shadow Puppets decided to cover Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ during their Everything You’ve Come To Expect tour. The title track and ‘Science Fiction’ are lyrically the most creative listens. With lines such as, “Jesus in the day spa, filling out the information form’, and “Reflections in the silver screen of strange societies, swamp monster with a hard-on for connectivity”, reminding me of how much more lyrically impressive Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is compared to AM. The transition specifically between ‘Golden Trunks’ and what seems to be most fan’s favoured track ‘Four Out of Five’ is a definite pick me up from ‘Golden Trunks’ dark political lines, “Bendable figures with a fresh new pack of lies” and a person’s blind devotion ‘“When true love takes a grip, it leaves you without a choice”. When the album’s titles were released ‘The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip’ intrigued most. Assuming that there will be a heavy guitar riff or a similar AM ‘R U Mine?’ sound from the ‘roughness’ of the title was the complete opposite. What ‘The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip’ brings is the most Suck It and See throwback feelings. The chorus throughout ‘She Looks Like Fun’ being the most intriguing with Alex referring to modern society scrolling through their Instagram feeds, “Good morning/Cheeseburger/Snowboarding”. ‘Batphone’ continues this theme of technology and how individuals aren’t living in ‘the reality’. Overall, it seems that opinions have been split from fans of AM’s 2013 era, but I personally am completely lyrically blown away from Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’s entirety. It’s almost like a continuation of Everything You’ve Come To Expect with similar sounds of ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘Aviation’, but minus Miles. With new the additions of the piano, and synthesizers I believe that they have enhanced the new direction that the Monkey’s have stepped toward and I already can’t wait for what they’ll decide to make next.
Four out of five stars on Arctic Monkeys’ comeback ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino’
After five years of silence, the Arctic Monkeys make their much-awaited return with surprising and hypnotic ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino’. Perfectly managing to avoid self-parody or stylistic repetitions, this new album appears as a startling reinvention, a meandering and puzzling journey beyond known territories. Just like mankind first set foot on the moon on the ‘Tranquillity base’ site, the Arctic Monkeys disembark in an unknown universe in which they reveal a new, unexpected aspect of themselves.
It would be difficult to distinguish a single in this album: unlike 2013 structured indie rock success ‘AM’, ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino’ appears as a puzzle, a tangled enigma with no apparent solution, the value of which precisely resides in this sophisticated lack of clarity. As the album opens with the bewitching track ‘Star Treatment’, one is confounded in disorientation, before eventually letting the album settle a logic of its own. Some songs appear nearly unconstructed, yet simultaneously refined and complex, echoing the way in which the lyrics present a dense yet also elliptic unique form of prose, like a stream of consciousness, melodically unfolding itself. Turner’s deep and captivating voice strongly reminds of Gainsbourg’s early 70s half-spoken verses, sometimes erudite and poetic, sometimes full of derision, such as on the opening line of the album: ‘I just wanted to be one of the Strokes’. A sense of irony, or at least of strong self-awareness emerges throughout the tracks of the album, reflecting a conscious decision to move away from an older musical style that it would make no sense to replicate, in order to engage in a necessary and well-executed new path.
‘Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino’ however seems to reflect Turner’s personal evolution more than it presents a real fruition of the Arctic Monkeys as a band, and the instrumentals, although displaying intense and elegant arrangements, create a harmonious echo to the vocals rather than they truly establish the band’s presence. The addition of the piano accompanying Turner’s reflective vocals partially replaces Helder’s vibrant drums that helped define the band’s early albums and marks a notable shift, both asserting a form of musical maturity, and avowing the forfeiture of a constitutive element of the band’s sound. ‘Tranquillity base hotel & casino’ seems to retain a sense of continuity with Turner’s side project The Last Shadow Puppets, and particularly of their 2016 album ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’, although it appears to be more intricate and subtle in many of its aspects. Final song ‘Ultracheese’ captures the best this album has to offer, presenting a rich and magnetic journey in this captivating new universe.
Despite its obviously divisive aspects, this album undeniably presents an extremely successfully crafted creation, a melodic and truly bewitching masterpiece. ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino’ reflects the Arctic Monkeys’ ability to transcend genres and provide their audience with impressive yet always effective transformations.
The year is 2018 and the Arctic Monkeys have returned. To celebrate their return, they’ve given us their sixth record, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. And yes, though it’s 2018, this album feels like it belongs right in between vinyl copies of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and David Bowie record. With this record, one has to remember this album isn’t the sequel to AM, nor it should it be viewed as its heir. This is a record that’s beyond its years that also dwells in the time before it, and it’s more conceptual than full story sometimes- nonetheless, it’s still a record.
The album starts with ‘Star Treatment,’ a glittering Bowie-esque opening that’s chock full of jazz tones, vocal effects, and piano. Here, Alex Turner plays the reflective celebrity, singing in whispery echoed tones about how he wishes he was one of the Strokes, or just someone unforgettable. Peppered with pop culture references and metaphor, ‘Star Treatment’ is sultry and mysterious, as if Turner’s singing in dim light surrounded by fog and old-school movie lights.
After ‘Star Treatment’ is ‘One Point Perspective,’ has an opening much like the opening piano notes of Panic! At the Disco’s ‘Nine in the Afternoon,’ but has a much different mood than the aforementioned. This song instrumentally blends classical elements with lounge music and is reflective like the blues as Turner, or at least the song’s character laments former dreams and youthful aspirations. The music helps fill in the gaps on this track a great deal, as there are a number of instrumental breaks. The album then abruptly shifts into the spoken-word like ‘American Sports,’ is a veiled commentary on the similarities and differences between the fictional society described in the album and present-day- “Breaking news, they take the truth and make it fluid…A montage of the latest ancient ruins/Soundtracked by a chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing”.