Illustration by Fintan O’Sullivan
Arctic Monkeys, the producer’s of everyone’s middle school angst anthems, have returned from their five year hiatus to release their long awaited sixth album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. For years, whispers and murmurs rumored of the Monkey’s next album, but no hard information ever surfaced. When the album was finally announced, many were confused to hear that the group would also release no singles following up to the album drop, only adding to the secrecy of their next project. Now that their record has released, we finally know what the summation of five years of work looks like, but that doesn’t help the confusion.
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is an oddity to many, especially their fan-base. Gone are the heavy guitar riffs, gone are the lonely lyrics that blended crooners and the modern together, and gone is the angsty teenage nostalgia that permeated the mainstream.
In fact, forget anything you knew about the Arctic Monkeys, because it will only lead you disappointment listening to their new works. This album tackles surrealism head on, swapping the band’s iconic witty sleeze for abstract prose in both it’s instrumentation and lyricism. The band has matured and expects you to have done the same.
Additionally, the album’s subject matter is bewildering to fans and casual listeners alike. Rather than singing about forlorn love or failed opportunities, the album takes the perspective of a guest enjoying their visit to a hotel on the moon, or, The Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, with each song detailing an aspect of this illustrious inn. Inspired by the Tranquility Base (the first place on the moon where Neil Armstrong set foot), the album takes from music of the 70s and revitalizes it for a contemporary audience.
The song “She looks like fun” is reminiscent of the Abbey Road era Beatles with it’s repetitive drum beat, lead singer Alex Turner’s wailing voice, and unique lyrics. The opening track, “Star Treatment,” is comparable to Bowie-era glam pop, including heavy use of space-age synthesizers and keyboard. This album does an excellent job at capturing the ‘70s rock era and all of it’s niches.
The Arctic Monkeys have made their return ferociously, reinventing themselves for no one other than themselves. The reason a single wasn’t released early isn’t because their work is horrible, but instead because one song could never encapsulate the full scale of what the Arctic Monkeys were planning to accomplish in their latest album.