Last Friday "The Arctic Monkeys" released Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. It's the band's sixth album and first since 2013's AM. I'm not some Chuck Klosterman full of them self music writer so I may be wrong, but to me what was really strange about this project is how this album had almost no buzz until the day before it's release. Not that people weren't excited, more so just no lead single and almost no media appearances until after it came out. Something you rarely see in music. I remember the days where the lead single would come out four months before the album. I hadn't heard a second of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino until Friday when it came out. I'm also not a legit music writer (obviously) just giving an opinion on a band I've enjoyed for some time so this isn't gonna be some looking down my nose using unnecessary SAT words to look smarter than I actually am NME/Pitchfork review.
I said Arctic Monkeys in quotations because it's not really a Monkey's album at all by it's sound. They've always kinda switched things up album to album, but IMO this just isn't Arctic Monkey's music. If you had never heard of the Arctic Monkey's and I played you Florescent Adolescent or Teddy Picker, then One Point Perspective you'd never guess they were by the same band.
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino sounds nothing like an Arctic Monkey's album at all. Completely stripped down from their signature sound. Very mellow, jazzy, which given the name of the album makes sense. It's a total concept album about this imaginary Hotel/Casino, and science fiction which is cool. I don't hate that, some of the most important/legendary albums of all time are concept albums. The Wall by Pink Floyd and Stg. Pepper by the Beatles are probably the two textbook example. It's just when one of your favorite bands (I can't believe I forgot them on my concert bucket list blog last year official-dol-summer-concert-bucket-list.html) hasn't made new music in half a decade you hope when they finally do it's something more close to home from a sound standpoint.
My favorite part about this album is that it just exists in general. It's a mini personal victory for me, because it means I was right. See last year, right around URI graduation I had a conversation during one of my extremely awkward tinder hangouts (a blog that is long overdue) I talked to this chick about them and said I really hope they make new music soon, I heard rumors that they might next year and she was all like "no way, never gonna happen, Alex Turner hates them" blah blah blah. So take that! I get to shove this down her throat, until like something else that never got a chance because after you break somebody's bed that kinda goes out the window. Amirite? So guess what Kelsey? Dozo was right, sorry about the bed again (even though it wasn't really broken more so just fell off the support beams that were way too small to begin with)_they did make a new album! Idc if it's Alex Turner make believe. I was right, you were wrong. That's all I need.
I'm not against artists experimenting and switching shit up, we all know my love of cross-genre covers. It's just I wish this was something done in between albums, not the culmination of five years wondering if they'll ever record again? Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino just simply isn't The Arctic Monkey's. It's Alex Turner passion project of pretending to be a 50's hotel lounge singer for hipsters to play on their record players that they got from FYE to impress their tinder dates. When I think Arctic Monkey's I want fast guitars and catchy hooks and chorus' in a Sheffield accent while I reminiscence about being 15. There's pretty much no guitars on this album except for "Golden Trucks" and one of the saddest guitar solo's you'll ever hear in "One Point Perspective". It's like loungey, hotel music which makes sense given the album and track titles. It's literally about some made up hotel and casino unless it's a metaphor for something going way over my head.
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is much more of a Alex Turner album than the actual band. From what I've read he pulled a Brian Wilson and tried to do his own Pet Sounds thing, writing the album alone on a piano than had the rest of the band come record what he made then bam AM has their 6th album. Cam Avery of Tame Impala (an act that has perfected the Brian Wilson blue-print to making music from genius Kevin Parker) appears on the album to play bass. If you haven't listened to Tame Impala fucking stop reading this blog and go listen to them for 45 minutes.
I've now listened to the album about 5 times and have come up a conclusion.
I think it's important to not just listen to album once then plop something out. Music grows with every listen, you catch things you missed before, really start to break down the lyrics and composition of the song. No one listen reviews are valid imo.
Despite everything that I just said, I don't hate this album. It's just really, reaaally different and not what I was expecting. It worries me because I really want to see them on this upcoming tour but I want a classic Monkey's show, not this. I want to wear knackered converses, not a three piece suit.
I do loveeeeeeeeee Four Out of Five, I've listened to it realistically about 37 times. I wish Apple Music had stats like old desktop itunes used to when I was adding music from Limewire to know exactly how many times I've played it. Tbh it kinda bums me out that I like that song the most since it ended up being the lead single, I just feel so lame when that is my favorite song off an album, but in my defense this all happened before I realized it was the lead single. At the end of the day who really fucking cares? My friend made a great point to me that it's usually the single for a reason.
The album opening line "I just wanted to be one of the Strokes" on Star Treatment has been a hot topic of discussion. You'd think I'd be a Strokes fan but I really don't know a ton of their music. It pretty much ends after "Last Nite"
If you are an Arctic Monkey's fan I definitely suggest giving Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino a listen just to hear it and make up your own mind. Based on comments I've read on youtube videos a lot of people love this album. What I think is really missing from the album is the singalong-ability. That's not exactly the most Oxford-Dictionary-y term I've ever used but like to me the Monkey's have so many classics you can just sing along to that are just fun songs. Here it's a little too serious, not a ton of chorus' or hooks. Like I've said 92 times, this does not sound like the Arctic Monkeys. It's much more piano and crooner based, completely different from their sound. But still has classic wordsmith lyrics (including a dig at Trump!) that you expect from Alex Turner but it just makes me long of the days of their early work.
There are a few songs I like, but overall this album will be out of my rotation in about a week. I'll give Alex Turner credit for taking a chance and going after something unlike anything else this band has ever done. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky/Michael Scott/ Dozo and at least he tried. I'l take an album I'm not in love with over nothing any day of the week. While I personally am not crazy about it, I love that Alex went for something different.
Since I'm a former/future teacher we'll grade this and all future DOL album reviews on the classic A-F scale. I'd give Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino a C+. Passing grade, some may be proud of a C+ others may wear the belt from their dad, either way to me this album just leaves a lot more to be desired.
As of now I'd say my three favorite songs are:
3. The Ultracheese
2. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
1. Four Out of Five