By Norain F.
One of the greatest highlights of the early 2000s, Arctic Monkeys (AM), is among the most successful English indie rock bands to date. Their emergence in the spotlight begins with the release of their debut single titled ‘I Bet You Look Good on The Dancefloor’ and their meteoric rise to fame is the result of their ever-growing internet fame, thanks to social media platforms like MySpace in the mid 2000s. Over the last 12 years, the band has navigated their way through multiple eras, from their Converse-wearing Sheffield boys upstart, to the leather jacket-wearing, Elvis Presley-looking 2013 era. So after 5 years of brewing in the shadows, you’ll start to wonder what exactly they’re working on and if it’s going to live up to the expectations of fans that have been accumulating for five years.
With not a lot of prior teasers or promotions, their sixth album is announced to be titled as Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. This record does exactly what you’d imagined it to be – it launches you into outer space, marking another era of evolution in their musical style. Inspired by the prearranged site that Neil Armstrong named ‘Tranquility Base’, this record is thought to challenge the rawness of their critically-acclaimed debut album, titled ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’.
A few days prior to the release of the album, fans on Twitter freaked out over the rumor circulating around the net about Alex Turner referencing The Strokes in one of the songs in their upcoming album. If you don’t know already, Arctic Monkeys are heavily inspired by the New York indie rockers, The Strokes, whose debut album, ‘Is This It’, earned them the title of ‘the savior of rock n’ roll’. When the album was finally released a few days ago, turns out the rumors aren’t just rumors after all and fans everywhere are elated.
“I just wanted to be one of the Strokes.” The song in which the reference to The Strokes was made is called ‘Star Treatment’ and it’s so obvious that they can’t hide their adoration.
While the crux of AM is all about sex, love and sweaty clubs with a little bit of leather jacket thrown in, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is a different chapter – in fact, it’s a completely different story with its own palpable sound that draws a distinction between its 2013 rock n’ roll counterpart and itself. It’s a million light years away from ‘Knee Socks’ and ‘R U Mine’. As a matter of fact, it exists in a realm of elevator music of its own. It’s tranquil, much like the name itself suggests but it’s also lackluster in certain parts, something that you can’t find in their earlier records. It may sound foreign and unfamiliar during the first few listens, because this is certainly not the Arctic Monkeys that we know, but you’ll find yourself gravitating towards the very essence of the album with each listen, which is Alex Turner’s impeccable story-telling skills through his well thought-out lyrics. But still, this album is a little too safe and stale, like a 50-minute loop of Piledriver Waltz’s rejected B-side. ‘Star Treatment’ and ‘One Point Perspective’ are decent but the rest lack substance. Although I appreciate the changing of route, I still think that this album needs more of that wow factor that Arctic Monkeys’ used to be known for. It’s not the kind of album that you’d revisit in 5 years, but more of a lost record that people will eventually forget the existence of. It’s like the bastard child of David Bowie and Leonard Cohen that no one knew existed, but don’t want to know more about at the same time. For 5 years we expected something a lot more, it’s not worth the wait at all. I’d take Humbug over Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino anytime.