The Arctic Monkeys are no strangers to being a unique breed in a world of music that can often feel convoluted and over-saturated. Everything from their tonality to their desire for the album to remain a storytelling module, complete with climax and crescendo, has stood out since the band first astounded the world over a decade ago. And after five years without a release, AM has finally returned—but if you weren’t so attuned Alex Turner’s uniquely shimmering voice, chances are you may not have even noticed. This is a new band with a new sound, yet everything that has made the Arctic Monkeys an unmissable act is fully present on Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Like any good hotel-casino hybrid, this album walks the line between sultry and sleazy throughout its 11-song run. The first thing any long-time listener will notice is that the thunder that seemed to be the most crucial element of the Arctic Monkeys’ signature sound is absent at the onset. Some tracks even do away with percussion altogether, and Turner trading in his guitar for piano is the most dynamic change this band has seen in its existence. Soft vocal harmonies and walking bass lines emerge in the first minute instead of fuzzy chords and huge snares. “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes. Now look at the mess you made me make”, he sings with an echo, nearly under his breath.
There’s a calm over the first few tracks of the album, starting with “Star Treatment”. It’s the kind of malaise that comes with reflection and eventually, acceptance. The Arctic Monkeys successfully transform and place themselves into the soul a sideshow band out of Las Vegas, crooning their hearts out for only the few passersby who manage to stop briefly before carrying on down the strip or to the slots, exemplified to a tee on songs like “Star Treatment” and the album’s title track. “Baby I was a little too wild in the 70’s”.
The theme sticks throughout the album—particularly the nearly under-the-radar spoken-word vocal style that seeks to compliment the drive of every song’s piano melodies. The tempos, nor the songs’ dynamic range, raise too far above the mean to create a trance-like effect when listening. It’s lounge-pop reinvented, with sci-fi lyrics that grow more interesting as the album persists, particularly on tracks like “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front flip” and “One Point Perspective”. The instruments find space to play with each other beneath the keys, with guitars whirring and echoing at various speeds throughout any track and bass lines that travel with a near-stumble, but always reach the intended destination.
As different as Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino sounds—and is—the Arctic Monkeys haven’t eliminated the explosive sound mastered in 2009’s Humbug. Tracks like “Science Fiction” and the album’s single “Four Out of Five” propel the band back into the wild, but even so, it almost feels like a masterful tongue-in-cheek approach, well-aware of again being a band playing loudly and confidently to an audience that will likely not understand. And with the album receiving mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, the experiment is playing out exactly as envisioned.
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is about reinvention. It’s a craving to abandon what has been incrementally and carefully built to once again feel the thrill of success and the rawness of critique. It’s a beautiful depiction of the Arctic Monkeys’ five lost years, presumably filled with thoughts of success, failure, boredom, excitement and anxiety towards what exactly would come next. The result is the kind of acceptance that results in reinvention. Sure, certain stretches can feel like a onenote stretch at surface-value, but listen again for what’s hidden beneath to discover the most important—and most fascinating parts becomes more fascinating with each listen. The Arctic Monkeys may have been in hibernation, but Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is undoubtedly the band’s most creative record.
“Take it easy for a little while. Come and stay with us.”
Live Music Venue
Need some music pumping through you right away? There’s no better place for a night out filled with outstanding drinks and awesome live music than Howl at the Moon! Featuring plenty of space and an exciting crowd at every location, plus a band playing tons of hit songs and crowd requests, Howl is the place to be when you have no choice but to rock out; plus with table reservations, semi-private space and full-venue buyouts available, we’re ready to make parties of any kind even louder. We even host unforgettable birthday parties, holiday parties, corporate events, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and more.
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