Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Released in 2018
Reviewed May 24 2018
«So I try to write a song to make you blush, but I've a feeling that the whole thing may well just end up too clever for its own good. The way some science fiction does.»
Cool. Let's base this whole review on those few sentences (starting 2m15s into 'Science Fiction').
Alex Turner is worried his recent work might be perceived as too clever, as difficult. But in reality, he's only trying to move people. With a concept album that is science fiction on nearly any conceivable level—if that base on the Sea of Tranquility didn't give it all away, the bare notion of a concept album from the lads who used to mumble from the drunken inside of a taxi in Sheffield is science fiction in itself.
It's obviously their «different» album. Right from the start with opener 'Star Treatment'—a song that quickly goes from not-quite-a-song intro to key track, setting the tone, if you like, both in terms of atmosphere and style. So different. But not in a sore thumb, sticking out kind of way. More like turning the band into something different. Expanding their palette, if you like.
There's just so much great music on this album. Judged not so much by the Arctic Monkey Gold Standard as by its own self-realisation. If you really need to prove it to yourself, please start with the title track and try to resist it for more than two spins. You'll quickly pick up 'Science Fiction' and 'Four Out Of Five'. By the time 'Batphone' flips from interesting to indispensable, you're sold. I would grade this higher if I didn't know shame.
In hindsight most things make sense. Taking Humbug's unfulfilled urge to escape the pigeon hole, the synthetic sleaze of The Last Shadow Puppets, the knowledge that Suck It and See emptied the well and there still was plenty left to reinvent the wheel for AM, Alex Turner alone with a piano in LA was all it took. The elements were there all the time, but suddenly they're put together in a way nobody imagined. And it makes perfect sense.