Clark Chronicle

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino marks a bizarre turning point for Arctic Monkeys

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This is the first album in five years.

This is the first album in five years.

courtesy of neon tommy/ Flickr

courtesy of neon tommy/ Flickr

This is the first album in five years.

Sangam Sharma, Staff Writer

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The new Arctic Monkeys album, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, provides a surreal experience for listeners and a medium for Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner to vent about his qualms with society and what he fears is in store for society’s future. Through this album, which was released May 11, Arctic Monkeys diverged from their previous sound with an album heavy with experimentation. This was the first album Turner wrote with the piano, and the album has a melancholy sound with influence from jazz and blues genres while still retaining elements of the rock genre Arctic Monkeys has always belonged to.

The whole concept of the album is something unconventional in the music world. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is based on the existence of a fictional hotel and casino, located on the moon at the exact spot of the first moon landing. The whole album plays like a story, where Alex Turner is the narrator as well as a character in a science-fiction satire of society. Each song is a chapter where listeners follow along and hear Turner’s social commentary hidden between the lines of seemingly eclectic lyrics.

The journey begins with “Star Treatment,” where Turner discusses the senselessness of pursuing fame and the lies people accept when they see media portrayal of “stars.” Turner, in writing the song, uses the concept of starlight as a play on words, using starlight to also mean the images and representation of celebrities in lines like “It took the light forever to get to your eyes.”

The first song, as well as later tracks such as “Four Out of Five,” “Batphone,  and the title song “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” all hold a melancholy, longing tone with a sound reminiscent of older genres. Interestingly, the songs also have futuristic vibes, perhaps due to the fact that Turner’s voice echoes throughout, and the topic matter usually involves technology. While the message is interesting, the band plays the music well and Turner has a mesmerizing voice, the consistency of one vocal pitch and the repetitive instrumentals result in songs that fall flat.

One exception is “Golden Trunks.” It starts out with a more intense tone, contrary to the other songs’ dejected sounds. It also is more poetic and song-like, with alliteration and up-and-down vocals reminiscent of poetic meter. While the song is primarily a love song, it also features social commentary in the lyric “The leader of the free world / Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks,” supposedly alluding to Pres. Trump.

While Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino comments on important topics such as the dominance of technology in the modern world, politics and the hollowness of fame, it is hard to interpret the lyrical genius and the messages between the lines. While most songs are relatively short, they seem to drag due to Turner’s tone and the repetitive beat. While the experimentation with eeriness, voice echoing and piano and organ music marks an interesting turning point for the band, their new sound takes a while to adjust to. The album takes listeners on a trip to a faraway place, and while I respect the band’s attempts to try new things, I couldn’t really get into their new sound.

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Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino marks a bizarre turning point for Arctic Monkeys