Arctic Monkeys: ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino’ Album Review

Happy Friday!

It’s here, finally after what seems like a century of waiting, the Arctic Monkeys have released their 6th studio album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’.

I’m a big fan of the Arctic Monkeys, especially like most of us, the AM album released in 2013. I really can’t find any faults with that album, it definitely is musical perfection, sonically and lyrically and it’s one of my favourites of all time. I’m also a fan of their earlier stuff too, when the band were more interested in the goings on of South Yorkshire and the booming indie-rock scene.

I was headache-inducing excited for the release of this album and discussed every song with a good friend who is also a Monkeys fan. We’d bought tickets to the tour so had high hopes for what we were about to listen to.

Quick disclaimer as usual, I am no music expert nor do I know anything about the technicality of it. I am simply a music listener and lover and all of what you’re about to read is completely my own personal opinion.

The album presents 11-tracks with a collective time of 40 minutes, which is standard for an Arctic Monkeys album as they’ve all been a very similar length.

THE REVIEW:

Track One – ‘Star Treatment’:

My instant thoughts within the space of the first thirty seconds of the song was that it was insanely Bowie-influenced, very ‘Space Oddity’, which is definitely not a bad thing and brings a whole new sound for the band. Of course, Alex Turner delivers on the lyrical front as always and his falsetto sounds great. I’ve definitely missed his voice over the last few years they’ve been MIA.

Track Two – ‘One Point Perspective’

This is going to make people mad, but when I first heard the piano at the start I thought it was ‘Hard Knock Life’ from the Annie soundtrack…

Getting past that, the piano continues across the track and mingles with smooth guitar to create an almost old sort of arcade type sound. I also caught the lyric, ‘they come out of the cracks, thirsty for blood’ which makes me think of the reference to vampires in the band’s first album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not with the track, ‘Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But’. It could be a nod to their first record or I could just be reading into it more than I should.

I especially liked the guitar solo on this track, we don’t get that much from the guitar on this record but it was very welcome in One Point Perspective.

Track Three – ‘American Sports’

Firstly, if you haven’t listened to the album chronologically then I highly recommend you do so. The transitions between the tracks are seamless.

Continuing the space theme, which Turner said was ‘sci-fi’ inspired in his BBC Radio 1 interview, American Sports carries on with the 70’s sounding piano effects. However, without the lack of heavy electric guitar and booming drums it makes me question whether die-hard Arctic Monkeys fans will enjoy or appreciate this new sound or whether it’s maybe just a bit too different.

Track Four- ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’

By the fourth and title track, I was expecting a high energy, jump around typical Monkeys song but instead they’re firmly sticking to the smooth, synthy sound. I feel like this track could fit easily into a slick-crime movie soundtrack. Alex’s falsetto sounds perfect once again, he’s got such a lovely tone to his voice that fits in with the tranquil vibe of the album.

Although, if I’m being completely honest, for a title track this song disappointed me.

Track Five – ‘Golden Trunks’

Upon the first few notes of the song I was once again hoping for an upbeat song, which by this point my expectations of getting any form of the ‘Arctic Monkey indie rock’ they’re so well known for was quickly dying.

Golden Trunks to me is quite an eerie track with the use of the synth. It’s almost Pink Floyd  ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ influenced. I enjoyed the backing vocals on this track they complemented the music nicely.

Track Six – ‘Four Out of Five’

On first listen of the album, this track was my favourite. I feel like this is the track where Alex’s vocals are the most clear and you can appreciate his lyrics the most. Once again, this album to me is extremely 70’s inspired. From the musical style to the references within the song, for example I caught that Alex mentioned ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ which was a music based TV show popular in the 1970s.

I like the play on the ‘four stars out of five’ with the album surrounding a hotel theme. This track to me, if you removed the synth and pushed the bass more is the most similar to the style of music on AM.

Track Seven – ‘The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip’

…is it even an Arctic Monkeys album if there’s not at least one song with a long title?

When Alex said he was inspired by the piano for this album, it’s blatantly obvious. Actually, this song isn’t awful, it has it’s redeeming points, the lyrics are great (as per) and the vocals from both Turner and the other band mates sound lovely but it’s just…similar to Golden Trunks to me. I had more hope for a song with a title as fun as this one.

Track Eight – ‘Science Fiction’

Upon first listen of the album, I didn’t really care much at all for Science Fiction but on a second listen it’s actually a lot more interesting than I initially thought.

This track has a handful of musical influences from different genres. Straight away I pick up on 70s funk and soul with the use of the bass guitar which is accompanied with synth as the song progresses which reminds me a lot of the Ska/Reggae genre (think Ghost Town by The Specials). I think this is a track I’ll find myself listening to quite a lot.

Track Nine – ‘She Looks Like Fun’ 

This song is also interesting, the way the vocals slip from higher notes to a deeper spoken voice during the chorus gives it a darker flair. The best part of this track once again for me is the lyrics. Otherwise, this song is probably a skip for me.

Track Ten – ‘Batphone’

I absolutely adore the lyrics on this track, god bless Alex Turner. This track is one of my favourites on the album, sonically it flows beautifully and breaks into a short guitar solo. If this song was on an earlier album, I think it would have definitely been a stand out track. It makes me a little sad that because the album is all quite similar sounding, this track might get lost in the comparison the rest of the record.

Track Eleven – ‘The Ultracheese’

The final track, ‘The Ultracheese’, is the gem of this record. The slow, melodic track has no synth which has pretty much wrapped its fingers around the rest of the songs on the album and it’s great to just hear Alex singing beautiful lyrics, honestly and with emotion. I can imagine this track will be a favourite for a lot of people who maybe aren’t completely sold on the rest of the space themed album.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

After waiting with baited breath for five years for Arctic Monkeys to release new material, I’m a tad disappointed by Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

I completely understand that bands evolve and try out new genres, especially Arctic Monkeys but with this album I feel like they’ve lost the indie-rock influences they’re so insanely popular for. Don’t get me wrong some of the tracks on the album are beautiful and Alex’s vocals and lyrics are top notch as always. I just feel like the songs could be more varied in their sound as I think they’re all pretty similar.

I worry that the fans won’t be too impressed with the album so I’ll be interested to see the feedback on Twitter from those that have listened to the record and bought tickets to the shows.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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