The Arctic Monkeys was my favorite band when I was 15. That was the era of the Favourite Worst Nightmare, The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and many other bands that were influenced by them, creating the “indie scene”, a term that became somewhat tacky nowadays. Since then, a lot has happened and as I’ve grown older, I’ve watched the most hyped band of my teenage years become one of the most notorious bands of the UK, with five different albums, a side project called The Last Shadow Puppets, and well… they even played at the Olympics!
My relationship with the Monkeys, however, have changed throughout the years. Even though I’ve become more interested in other things while they’ve taken a more glamorous rock’n roll side, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t go back to a song or two to enjoy my teenage hits or a new single or two, which kind of made me excited for this new album, especially after Everything You’ve come to Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, however, disappoints.
The first thing you can tell about the record is that is not an album by the Arctic Monkeys, but Alex Turner himself. There are no melodies, no rhythm, no riffs or anything. The band plays on the background with no characteristics at all while Alex Turner delivers one of the most ridiculous, pretentious and boring melodies that have nothing to do with the Monkeys or his side project with Kane. In fact, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino seems like the type of music that would be playing on the elevator of such facility.
For trying to pursue something calmer and more personal with jazz influences, psychedelia and pop-rock from the 60s, Alex Turner jeopardizes the whole record by closing himself on his own shell and leaves the band behind. The other members themselves have said that the new record is all Turner’s material and it was so different from anything they’ve done before that they didn’t really know what to do with it. As a result, Turner exploits his references in a very singular way, saying nonsense things like “So who you gonna call? The martini police baby that isn’t how they look tonight” or “They’ve got a film up on the wall and it’s dark enough to dance. What do you mean you’ve never seen Blade Runner?”.
What seems a little interesting at the beginning it soon blurs out through repetitively and boredom as the band seem to be playing the same tune for 40 minutes while Turner delivers lines that don’t necessarily rhyme or makes sense. Even though the material itself isn’t bad, the worth critics and fans will make to try to “understand” and “enjoy” this new phase don’t hide the fact that we wouldn’t be listening to this if it were a new band. I always think about this when I listen to a new album. Would I be listening to this if it weren’t for this and that? And Alex Turner, who has been the center of it all for a while, is probably taking himself too seriously and maybe should leave the rest of the band to take part of the creating process. Maybe next time.
Papiro & Mint| ★★★☆☆