Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Psychedelic Pop | Indie Rock
I have a confession to make; I never really got the hype surrounding the Arctic Monkeys. Granted Alex Turner is a unique lyricist, but aside from that I never really saw what set them apart from a multitude of other indie bands, never mind made them one of the biggest bands on the planet. With that in mind it’s been entertaining watching fans meltdown over the band’s change of direction with this new album. Taking a 60s inspired approach that has more in common with Turner’s side project The Last Shadow Puppets than any previous AM offering, Tranquility boasts a lush and lavish sound that oozes class and charm. Opulent piano and organ permeates the entire record, Turner’s vocals are at their very best, and the bass tones across the board are simply glorious. Musically speaking, this record is like a fine wine. The band have matured superbly and should certainly be admired for their ambition.
However, the detractors have a point. It’s not all just lamenting the stark departure from their early work, the album has some very real flaws that simply can’t be avoided. While Turner has always been one for an odd turn of phrase, he’s all but lost the plot entirely on Tranquility. Most of the album’s lyrics are just constant gibberish, with very few of the frontman’s trademark one-liners to be found. The album lacks any discernible hooks and is desperately short of diversity, chugging along at the same pace and tone for the duration. While you could listen to any song individually and find yourself enjoying it, listening to them together just feels like 11 different early demos of the same song idea one after another. There are plenty of reasons why I can appreciate this album, but not nearly enough for me to “like” it. Neither camp of fans I feel has the full picture. It’s not a complete abandonment of their roots, nor is it their crowning masterpiece; it’s the sign of a band growing whilst showing that they still have a lot of room left to grow further.