Acclaimed band Arctic Monkeys released their new album, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, today, May 11. It has been highly anticipated as this is the group’s first album in five years. However, despite begin a product of Arctic Monkeys, their newest album is a complete detour from the band’s previous music. The sounds that have earned the band millions of fans is still present. Lead singer Alex Turner’s distinctive voice and his familiar guitar riffs are the same, but the overall tone is almost completely different from their widely praised previous album, AM, or any of their prior albums for that matter. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino exchanges a punk rock sound for a science fiction vibe, with slow, methodical beats and an emphasis on Turner’s keyboard.
Although this lounge pop-sound may be jarring to long time fans of the band, it is not difficult to get used to. Certain tracks, such as “Four out of Five”, remind one of great musicians such as David Bowie or Elton John, while others recall the highly praised music of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Apart from the tone of the album, what is perhaps its most interesting aspect are the lyrics. Each line evokes the feel of an old science fiction film, with ominous warnings about modern technology and vague political references. However, under the surface of this is a deep sadness from Turner’s lyricism. This is interesting because of that fact that each Arctic Monkeys album appears to closely follow where Turner, and by extension the other band members, are in their lives as musicians. Beginning with cheap gigs in small rooms, the band’s music reflected this. Later, as they became more successful, their songs got more polished and their lyrics more thoughtful. Now, with a gigantic fan base and five successful albums behind them, they have the freedom to experiment with a different sound and a distinctive feel, and that is exactly what Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is: experimental.
While this foray into a new sound likely will not last, it is certainly interesting and provides an example of what the band is capable of. The album is far from perfect (it is filled with odd stylistic choices and is, in every sense of the word, a complete betrayal of their past work), but it ensures that the sound of Arctic Monkeys can never be anything specific and, as a result, will never become stale.