jack wager gives the run-down on the british band's 2018 revival.
Let me paint you a picture: the seat I sit on is leather, the one opposite has a mink fur cover. The rug beneath my feet is red but the walls are orange with black arrows piercing through its minimalist design. The record player requires my assistance but then it plays the smooth music— that helps the glass of whisky I hold taste sweeter. This is the setting my subconscious enjoyed when Alex Turner’s storytelling abilities were laid bare on the Arctic Monkeys latest record, Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino.
Studying in the Arctic Monkeys hometown of Sheffield, I truly got the experience of the bands release. All small talk in the city was concerning their return, muffles of “Excited for the Arctic Monkeys?” as I handed over the change for my Cherry Coke, in one shop.
The intro song Star Treatment propelled me straight into the 70’s vibe that Turner was trying to set. "Maybe I was a little too wild in the 70’s" slung over jazz instrumentals, this album was going to be something different from the start. With a lack of originality and non-commercial ideas within rock music as of late, this was refreshing. This was a big anti-modern music record, for me, mastering the classic atmosphere that I’m sure was intended.
One Point Perspective took me into the studio. This song was fueled on coked-up ideas that Turner turned into genius. Unremarkable on first listen— as with many of the songs— a thorough listen-through makes you realise how special this collection of songs is. The highlight of the album, amongst many, is Four out of Five. From the vocals to the annoyingly catchy bass riff, this embodies the Arctic Monkeys' sound. This will be belted out by all ages at festivals in years’ time, a skill that the band have perfected throughout their six LP's. She Looks Like Fun is daringly Bowie in his prime, and the rest of Turner's influences shine through clearly. It’s undeniable that the band found inspiration from Nick Cave’s vocals and Lou Reed’s attitude and instrumentation.
The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip is as magnificent as the name incites us. The carefully orchestrated piano and synth section compliment the slow vocals, building up to a chorus that you can imagine has been sang in a few shower sessions since its release.
With every song, I was in a different place. The concluding song, The Ultracheese, again transported me back to that 70’s living room. Mink fur chairs and contrasting orange and red colours but this time the mood is more solemn. The whisky bottle was empty. The reaction to this album divided fans who wanted their early sound back, signing about Sheffield dingy nightclubs and kissing girls in the back of taxis- this was never going to happen. Evolution is natural and Arctic Monkeys have done it in such a way that opens u their sound to many different ventures.
This album is the start of a new sound for the band, one that will influence their own, and others, albums in the future and people will cite this as the nucleus of that explosion of experimentation. ✉