Ricardo Teixeira and Sam Mukwamu
On 11 May, the Arctic Monkeys released their highly anticipated sixth studio album entitled Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The album comes after an almost four-year long hiatus by the band after wrapping up their AM tour in August 2014.
Upon release, fans have expressed mixed feelings towards the album. Many have praised it for the creative leap from their previous album, while others were left disappointed after comparing the two. When first listening to the album, any Arctic Monkey’s fan will be able to notice a major change in style. If you’re expecting pulsating guitar riffs like those on AM’s “R U Mine?” and “Arabella”, or even anything close to their earlier works, you will probably be disappointed too, as the album has a heavier piano presence, compared to their previous guitar-heavy work. The album is their least rock effort to date, but the new style is not so bad if you are someone who can appreciate a little jazz or blues. It is however not what fans expected, especially serious rock fans.
The opening song “Star Treatment” references another British band, The Strokes. Lead singer Alex Turner pays tribute to the band that inspired him to start his own by singing “I just wanted to be one of the strokes, now look at the mess you made me make.” The line serves as a reminder of how far the band has come since their inception, and how they were originally inspired. The song is a mix of retro and futuristic rhythm and sets the theme of the album. In an interview with Pitchfork, Alex Turner said the album “is a Sci-Fi adventure from a not-so-distant future where the moon is colonised, gentrified and turned into a luxury resort.” While “Star Treatment” sets the theme for the album, it encapsulates what you could expect from the rest of the album, as the mood do not deviate much.
Although the album may seem a bit of a downer at first, it does not mean the album is a complete let-down. When listening to it again you get to appreciate the album for the art that it is, mostly due to Turner’s lyrics. Lyrically Turner’s talent and experience does shine through. The album is a creative leap, and although it might not have landed on both feet. The album does mark a turning point for the band, as it changes perception toward them. The change in style is quite ironic, considering Turner’s 2014 Brit Awards acceptance speech for Album of the Year. “That rock ‘n’ roll, it won’t just go away. It might hibernate from time to time and sink back in the swamp”, said Turner. Let’s hope it really is just hibernating.