Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Many have been clamoring for the rock revival of the early 2000s for years now, forever searching for that band who will bring the ghost of the strokes back to life. The Arctic Monkeys even reference it in the first line of the first track "Star Treatment" saying "I Just wanted to be one of The Strokes" as this marching six minute opus plays out. If you were looking for a throwback rock and roll album you'd be looking in the wrong place, but in a way this record still manages to hearken to another era. Written mostly on the stand up piano the album sounds like 60s big band pop, but parred down and instead of 30 guys on stage it's down with just a few. The electronics feel very Ziggy Stardust sort of comically Scifi, but they work absolutely amazingly. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is certainly a major shift for The Arctic Monkeys and seems to be somewhat Tame Impala inspired at points, but it is a shift that works for them. If they would have tried to recreate tracks like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" they never would have been able to capture that same frantic energy this far into their career. You feel like you are being taken on this cosmic journey which really keeps the Bowie vibes alive and well throughout the album. There is also a slightly sinister bend to this record like on "Golden Trunks" where it feels like The Arctic Monkeys are trying to capture that 2001: A Space Odyssey sense of the isolation and fear that comes from being alone. There were so singles released in the lead up to this record, which after listening makes sense because it is a singular experience with nothing really standing out as brighter than the others.
It doesn't help the search for singles that much of this record sounds very very similar. I would be frustrated at this, but here it gives the album this flow and unity that you don't find that often. As the album progresses and you are taken deeper and deeper into this murky psychedelic world the only thing keeping you on the ground is the constant minimal drum beat and the ever present upright piano. AS spacey as they let things get these two instruments always bring you back home, keeping this thing from evaporating into something weird. The vocal which is always waxing philosophical a la Father John Misty really shines because it keeps these rather long songs from becoming too boring or monotonous. This record all at once feels easy and important, like real things are being said but they are being delivered in a beautiful mushroom filled field. "Star Treatment" sets the tone for what becomes this really fun journey through a psyc-rock adventure. This doesn't feel like The Arctic Monkeys' new sound, it just feels like where they are at right now, and that's alright.
8.3 out of 10