ARCTIC MONKEYS – TRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL + CASINO

It’s been literally six months and one day since I last reviewed a full album, and for those of you that followed the expansive works of Mojo20, you may even remember it was Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation‘ that was last dissected (you won’t remember, I didn’t) and of course, I thought it was a load of self-indulgent crap. HOWEVER, after all this time it’s certainly a great opportunity to jump back in as social media has spent all of today venting and sharing opinions on the long-awaited sixth studio album by Sheffield indie rock gods, Arctic Monkeys. The oddly named ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ dropped this morning but was already the object of scrutiny due to its obscure title and strange track listing. Not only that but bootleg digital versions were making the rounds the other day and people were, well, unsure about what to make of it. Of course though, being whiter than white here at Thinking Green I awaited its official release and ran out to pick up a physical copy of the new record… and here’s what I thought.

Tranquility-Base-Hotel-Casino-696x391

Now, the vast majority of opinion I’ve seen today on Twitter and all that has been negative. I can see why, but certainly wouldn’t agree. There are no huge indie bangers, the tempo has decreased and it does sound oh so very different to what we’re used to from them. “Which is what?” I hear you ask. Great question. Well I honestly wouldn’t know how to answer that because Arctic Monkeys have consistently evolved and expanded their sound and style since the very beginning. I honestly can’t name one of their other albums that sounds like another. “So why is it such a surprise that the trend has continued?” Again I don’t know but frankly the music sounds more mature, the songwriting suits a 32-year-old Alex Turner, just like ‘When The Sun Goes Down suited a 20-year-old Alex Turner. It’s about evolution, it’s about transcending expectation and documenting your art now, not retrospectively, not from a memory, I mean can you really see Turner, in his LA mansion, entertaining the likes of Richard Hawley, Nick Cave and John Cooper Clarke but writing music about his budget trainers that he recently bought off the market in Sheff? Of course not, he isn’t there anymore. He’s far removed from the lifestyle he once celebrated and invited us all into, that to stay in the same place artistically would seem disingenuous and cringy. “But it’s nothing like ‘AM’ or ‘Whatever People Say I Am..”, no you’re quite right, in fact it’s more akin to lounge music, in fact scrap that, elevator music, but it’s the coolest elevator in the worlds largest skinny jean factory I could ever imagine, or maybe a hotel… or a casino, and truthfully those albums still exist and are still fantastic but this is something else, a different beast entirely and should survive on its own merit, without comparison. Looking at the new album, it is an odd one and perhaps for the first time, there isn’t a stand out track. It’s a brilliant album, full of interesting, dark, wandering songs that centre mainly around the lyrical acrobatics Alex Turner is so proficient in. He’s a poet, a modern-day Northern, British Dylan and it’s clear that this albums main weapon of choice is his song writing. I have also seen some publications call this “the closest thing to an Alex Turner solo album we’ve got” which not only discredits his solo album for ‘Submarine’ the soundtrack, but also plays down the skills of the rest of the band. It’s possibly their funkiest work to date which just could not happen without a tight and talented rhythm section. It’s subtle, sexy, jazzy and a little brooding and I personally find that more intriguing than any three chord indie rock record I’ve ever come across. It is different, it really is, and as I said, I understand the uproar, but if you stop to take this album in for what it is and was intended to be, it really is superb.

Now, one downside from someone who’s seen the effects and ridden the consequences is that one of indie musics biggest names and sheer royalty of a genre thats flag isn’t flying so hard anymore, is doing nothing to maintain, preserve or aid the rock n roll that they championed so heavily on their previous album. Transmission indie night (hosted formerly by Mojo20) came to an end due to an ailing scene and poorly represented genre of music that ruled the world in the nineties and mid 2000’s. Arctic Monkeys appear to have left it behind too, just as much as I did. But hey, the album opens with the line “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes…” and so did I. I don’t anymore, and I guess these guys don’t either…

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