Deciding where to begin when describing this album is no easy task, as it really doesn’t fit into any already designed boxes. The initial thought upon beginning Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino written by Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner was, “This reminds me of that song the blob guys sings in Rick & Morty?” After finishing the album and re-listening to the blob guy song, it became evident that this was for good reason: both take quite a bit of inspiration from David Bowie. Listen to “Goodbye Moonmen” here:
Tranquility Base is written on the premise of a former moon-resident reminiscing on his home planet from a cocktail lounge on Earth. Moon has a great hotel, boasting “Four Out Of Five” stars. Like most sci-fi works, this is based on the last few years in the United States, the effects of technology (“Have I told you all about the time that I got sucked into a hole//Through a hand-held device?”) and fame. “American Sports” is one of the more obvious social commentaries on the album (“Breaking news, they take the truth and make it and fluid”).
From a listening standpoint, this album is not to be listened to in the shuffled mess or out of context songs on Spotify playlists – it’s an all or nothing kind of deal. It is by no means easy listening, and unlike a lot of their catchier albums, Tranquility Hotel requires a certain kind of focus if the listener is really going to enjoy it.
To call this album a failure would be flawed. To call it a success would be too. In all likelihood, Tranquility Base won’t see a lot of commercial success, but it’s a demonstration of just how far Turner’s writing can go. As a band that has made a career out of consistently producing radio-ready hooks regardless of whatever genre they are in, an album like this, which admittedly consists of no such hooks, could be damaging. This of course, depends on the band’s intentions with the album. There are many who suspect that this album, in addition to its purpose as a social commentary, is also an attempt to ditch the fans who just jumped along for the ride with the rock success that was AM in 2013.
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Arctic Monkeys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” Album Review. Featured image credit: Domino Recording Company