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Arctic Monkeys: TMBH&C

Posted on the 08 May 2018 by Outroversion @outroversion

Arctic Monkeys: TMBH&C

Arctic MonkeysTranquility Moonbase Hotel & Casino

I haven’t posted anything on this blog in nearly a year but I’ve not looked forward to an album this much in even longer.

Their sound has undoubtedly morphed from their adolescent debut and equally so, their florescent follow up but with the inception of the Last Shadow Puppets, a new direction in Alex Turner’s output lyrically and musically Humbug suddenly divided fans. The people who stuck with them agree it was their best album.

AM was a revelation. In 2011 Suck it and see had the lukewarmest reception to one of their albums so far and the follow up was as make or break as it can be for the most important British band of a generation.

So how do you go from that to an album that made people buy music again and do so both over here and the other side of the Atlantic? Change everything. Sure, it worked but how do you follow that unprecedented success? Change everything again? Throw the guitars out the window? Sure, let’s try that.

The result of this is Tranquility Moonbase Hotel & Casino, a concept album. The Arctics’ Sergeant Peppers?

The album opens with Star Treatment, the promo’d retro-futuristic lounge keys setting the tone for a laid-back crooning journey through whatever’s been on Alex Turner‘s mind the past 5 years since his personality transplant. In this case it’s fame and the pressures of producing through notoriety, The Strokes, Blade Runner and 1984 (the dystopian novel, not the electro-pop robots… or maybe not) being name dropped on and less obviously through references to Federico Fellini’s movie about writer’s block 8 1/2 and the 1971 Leonard Cohen song Dress Rehearsal Rag. You can’t help but feel such mid to late 21st century noveau will be ardent throughout our stay.

The guitars are actually back for One Point Perspective but it’s the same feel. The title’s pretty deep, concerning the point at which art is created, as well as the universe and the view few get to see of our own planet. In this and the opening song there are slight references to a previous Monkeys’ song, Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But… and that’s always an easy way to make fans happy because I expect there are plenty that aren’t happy about the direction they’ve chosen with this album. But hey, it’s better to be divisive than indecisive right?

“So when you gaze at planet earth from outer space”

With that line the concept behind this album is taking hold, as I literally just mentioned that in the previous paragraph and the monogrammed briefcase makes a comeback here too, now this is getting exciting. So yes, the moment you see earth as a point of light in the distance, I’m sure there’s a medical term for how you must feel afterwards but it’s something only a few hundred people have gotten to experience, so far.

The title track. Now, they chose not to release any singles from the album before its release which, especially when compared to AM which had THREE singles out before its release is a massively dramatic shift. However, if they were to release one I don’t know if this would be this wisest, it is very different. Not just different to their usual output but just different generally like, to songs and music!

Golden Trunks is a great song but it’s too short and too literal. If you know Klaatu, this is the kind of brief character driven song they would stick on an album but in this the character is Trump which I think no-one wanted to think about (a) when listening to this album and (b) in tight golden trunks.

In the early days of this album, Four out of Five seems to be the one song everyone can agree upon being a highlight. It fits both within the album and within the catalog as a whole, it flows nicely and has the usual Monkeys underlining bass which here is reminiscent of some Favourite Worst Nightmare lines. The information:action ratio mentioned in the chorus is an important aspect of our modern culture in that we all have access to unlimited information and yet, what are we doing with it? Generally, not a lot.

Is the world ready for a song called The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip? The reason behind the naming of this song probably isn’t good enough. Look, last march this happened and for me it’s like, so what? Following that is Science Fiction, Turner had been experimenting playing B-Movie music with some artists he has been producing and that’s clearly had a massive impact on this album. She Looks Like Fun, I’m really not sure of. Batphone is a great, smooth ode to technological devices and the hold they have over everybody these days.

Perhaps The Ultracheese isn’t the best name for a song… but it’s actually great, definitely part of the perhaps 4 tracks that will survive the next album’s rotation. Which is certainly symptomatic of their career now, after Whatever you say I am… It’s about cementing a legacy, not making a great album, albums aren’t what they were, like AM was a perfect album but still it was just a vehicle for the four songs that were played over and over on the radio and it’s like the songs that weren’t singles have been forgotten about now.

This felt more like an MGMT album than an Arctic Monkeys’ at this point. For the former, it would be a masterpiece. For the latter, I like it and I’m sure plenty of other people will but I can’t help but feel the general populous not really getting it.

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