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Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Album Review)

Monday, 21 May 2018 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Zackary Michael

We already know what’s going to happen when modern day icons Arctic Monkeys release a new album. It’ll top the UK charts (check); it’ll leave critics swooning and kissing their ass (also check); it’ll be full of energy,  demonic guitar riffs and hooks (er, maybe not).

To say album six, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, is a change of direction isn’t sufficient. Gone are the riffs, gone is the vigour and drive that made Arctic Monkeys such a thrilling band. Alex Turner’s cutting lyricism remains, though, and it’s the one saving grace that keeps you from simply wondering what the fuck is going on.

Turner has turned his attention to science fiction. He’s set up camp on a futuristic moon colony and moved the Monkeys in as its resident lounge band. It takes some getting used to, and this shift is going to be a turn off for hordes of fans, despite the glowing reviews.

Opener Star Treatment acts as an introduction to this brave new world. It feels sleazy and pointless, like elevator music perhaps, but its bassline shines majestically. That will become a recurring theme throughout the album, with Turner and bassist Nick O'Malley sharing duties.

One Point Perspective continues the background music vibe before the collection enjoys its twin peaks: American Sports and the title track. The former is an intriguing piece that might soundtrack a ‘60s spy thriller, with sinister keys and minor chords complementing piano and flecks of electric guitar. Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, though, is even better. Its awesome, brooding bassline underpins arpeggiated keys to conjure a glimpse of the future portrayed in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

Batphone moves at a funereal pace but is punctuated with pounding bass and an earworm melody, while Four Out Of Five is also a keeper that builds towards a thrilling conclusion like a spaceage version of the Beatles’ Something.

Other cuts are less memorable. The sinister Golden Trunks is largely forgettable, as are the Beach Boys-esque staccato keys of the curiously titled The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip. She Looks Like Fun is confused, melding talk of cheeseburgers with another fine bassline. Closer The Ultracheese represents a familiar potion of bluesy soul, country and sci-fi. It has little to offer bar fuzzy guitar chords.

The lion’s share of interest will lie with Turner’s compelling storytelling. He hasn’t misplaced his way with words and we are treated to tales of a “weekly chat with God on video call”, “hitchhiking with a monogrammed suitcase” and the leader of the free world reminding you of “a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks”. But, as far as the stint on the moon colony goes, perhaps it’s time to return to Earth.

Arctic Monkeys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun July 01 2018 - GLASGOW Green
Thu September 06 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Fri September 07 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sun September 09 2018 - LONDON O2 Arena
Mon September 10 2018 - LONDON O2 Arena
Wed September 12 2018 - LONDON O2 Arena
Thu September 13 2018 - LONDON O2 Arena
Sat September 15 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham
Sun September 16 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham
Tue September 18 2018 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Wed September 19 2018 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Fri September 21 2018 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Sat September 22 2018 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Mon September 24 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Tue September 25 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Thu September 27 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Metro Radio Arena
Fri September 28 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Metro Radio Arena

Click here to compare & buy Arctic Monkeys Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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