Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is finally here but Arctic Monkeys fans are divided on the new album
I hate this album. I hate this album because I have to think about it and it’s all I can find myself doing. To put it in perspective, it has been nearly 5 years from Arctic Monkeys’ last release, the superstar alternative album of the decade, AM and their latest seems more like their first than their last. Whatever people say they are, that’s what they’re not. That hasn’t been more true for any album prior to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino than it is here. I imagine it’s difficult to be a fan of what consumed their first album, they come back swinging each time they release something but Tranquility is their hardest hitter yet. Oddly enough, this collection seems more derived of the same energy that existed on their debut. It’s the same Alex but he’s turned 30. He doesn’t hang out in British pubs anymore, he spends a lot more time at swanky hotel bars, perhaps. But his cynical view of what goes on around him is the same. More people on phones than twelve years ago; more political nonsense going on in both of the countries he resides. Post-Trump, post-Brexit.. This is the Alex you get. Still able to spit one liners hard enough to leave a mark, still able to be as soft as “cuddles in the kitchen”. If you haven’t been watching Alex Turner since the disappearance of the Monkeys in 2014, this album may come as a surprise. Forever the shapeshifter, he sticks to this form, emerging from a Shadow Puppets haze as a real hotel lounge singer. But in outer space. Mr. Kite stuck in a Space Oddity. Lacking the smoothness and strength of the vocals and the vocal melodies on his last couple of ventures, Everything You’ve Come to Expect and The Dream Synopsis EP (both released in 2016) from side project The Last Shadow Puppets, this album makes up for the absence of prettiness in attitude. He’s drawing from Leonard Cohen, which is ironic considering that he covered his Is This What You Wanted? on the aforementioned EP and gave one of the best vocal tracks of his career. Lyrically, he’s fed up with this world that’s been manufactured for us, and for a guy with no social media accounts, you wonder what’s bugging him so much. Checking his email? Not that he doesn’t have valid points all over this album. I think we should all appreciate anyone who can compare Trump to a WWE wrestler. Maybe even the President himself could as well because he’s at least got his own theme song. Honestly, there isn’t much to complain about here. There are influences all over this album, from the lyrics, to the music. It’s kind of all over the place but it’s done the way it’s supposed to be done. In our current age, if you aren’t modge-podging together several very different genres into an album as possible, don’t even try to make popular music. Obvious influences are glam rock acts such as Bowie or Bolan and the world’s most influential band, The Beatles. You can hear Nina Simone’s jazz style littered all over the place. I even wonder if The Who’s Boris The Spider came into play on She Looks Like Fun. What I can find at fault in this LP are some clichés, in particular Golden Trunks which starts off sung in a cliché key used as a cheap way to make something darker than it actually is. I’m just a little perturbed by the psyche line starting off the song that way, it just seems super uninteresting to me. Disappointing considering that it has some of the best lyrics on the album but not disappointing enough for me to not half-way like the track. On an album this interesting, any kind of complaint isn’t worth dwelling on because what we have here is a collection of genuine expression, an artist given free range to say whatever the fuck he wants in an era where the world seems on the brink of destruction. Everything negative I can muster to feel about Tranquility kind of falls by the wayside in the grand scheme because it’s innovative in our era, it’s what you want from Arctic Monkeys because, as they’ve proven time and time again, whatever you think they are.. You know where I’m going with this.