×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Album Review: Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’

With the genre of rock music at an all-time low ebb, many people have pinned big hopes on this, Arctic Monkeys’ sixth album. The group was arguably the last straight-up rock band to break through in a major way — their 2006 debut broke the record for single-week album sales in their native U.K. — and they’ve maintained their status as one of the world’s biggest bands via songs like 2013’s booming “Do You Wanna Know” (which broke them in the U.S.), 2009’s snaky “Crying Lightning” and the thrashy 2005 track that put them on the map, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.” Singer/primary songwriter Alex Turner’s gnarled melodies and innovative wordplay add an ever-unfolding element of surprise to the group’s songs, and they remain one of the few arena-level rock bands who aren’t over 40.

Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the excellent and hotly anticipated “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is probably not going to meet anyone’s standard for saving rock and roll; in fact it’s the group’s least rock effort to date. Turner has said it’s the first set of songs he’s written on piano instead of his native guitar, and consequently the album has an echo-speckled, orch-pop, Burt Bacharach/Jimmy Webb-type vibe that’s well-suited to a group that’s spent a dozen years exploring the standard two-guitars/bass/drums rock template and, not coincidentally, all passed the age of 30 in the past couple of years. (It also suits the vintage 1960s tape recorder featured on the cover art.)

While the new approach has taken Turner’s songwriting and singing into fresh areas — like the bonkers chorus on “She Looks Like Fun” and the orchestral flourishes on “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip” — the dog-leg melodies and haunting refrains remain, and his lyrics are hilarious as ever: The album’s oft-quoted opening line is “I just wanted to be one of the Strokes, now look at the mess you’ve made me make”; “Golden Trunks” features the immortal line, “The leader of the free world reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks”; and in the opening of “One Point Perspective,” Turner takes advantage of his Northern English accent to rhyme “Dancing in my underpants/ I’m gonna run for government” over a piano pattern that is (briefly) almost identical to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” The closing “Ultracheese” is a 1950s-style throwback ballad; longtime fans will probably flock to “Four Out of Five,” which has one of the group’s trademark snaky guitar riffs and skulking grooves.

While a change of pace, none of these songs will sound unfamiliar to fans, or really could have been created by anyone else except a very talented parodist. Ultimately, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is just a snappy new outfit for a group that knows experimentation and diversity are keys to longevity.

Arctic Monkeys
“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”
(Domino Records)

Album Review: Arctic Monkeys' 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino'

More Music

  • Britney Spears

    Britney Spears' Fans Demand Release of Pop Star from Psychiatric Facility

    A group of protesters gathered outside City Hall in West Hollywood on Monday afternoon (April 22) to demand the release of pop star Britney Spears from a psychiatric facility. Carrying “Free Britney” signs and chanting “Hands off, Britney” and “Justice for Britney” about a dozen fans took to the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and [...]

  • Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior

    Arista Records Names Danny Cooper Senior VP of Promotion

    Danny Cooper has been named senior vice president of promotion at Arista Records, it was announced today by John Boulos, the label’s executive VP of promotion. In this role, Cooper will work closely with Boulos in all areas of promotion across genres, and oversee Arista’s promotion staff throughout the U.S. He is based in Los [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce, Editorial

    Lizzo Reveals Summer-Fall Tour Dates

    Hot on the heels of her Nice Life/Atlantic Records debut album “Cuz I Love You” (which got a rave review in Variety last week) and her two Coachella performances, Lizzo has announced dates for a huge North American tour, billed “Cuz I Love You Too.” Produced by Live Nation, the tour begins July 18 in Portland, [...]

  • Delta Air Lines celebrates Grammy Weekend

    Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Zedd to Headline iHeartMedia Wango Tango Concert

    Jonas Brothers, Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Zedd, Ally Brooke (with special guest Tyga), Ava Max, Fletcher and Tomorrow X Together will perform at iHeartMedia’s annual Wango Tango concert at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles (formerly StubHub Center) on June 1. Freeform will broadcast a 90-minute television special on Friday, June 7 [...]

  • Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin JonasJonas

    Jonas Brothers Set Their First Album in a Decade for June

    Coming 10 years almost to the week after their previous studio album, the Jonas Brothers’ “Happiness Begins” has been set for a June 7 release. A date for their full-length comeback has been eagerly anticipated by fans ever since the near-surprise March 1 release of “Sucker,” a single that has just reached No. 1 on [...]

  • Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to

    Prince Memoir, ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ to Be Released in October

    The memoir Prince was working on at the time of his death is coming out Oct. 29, according to the Associated Press. Publisher Random House confirmed Monday that “The Beautiful Ones” will combine Prince’s unfinished manuscript with rare photos, scrapbooks and lyrics. Announced just weeks before his 2016 death, the 288-page book, issued in partnership [...]

  • TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy

    TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration’

    If nothing else, CBS’ “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” special alerted America to the continued vitality of Smokey Robinson as a contemporary performer. Ten months from turning 80, the singer’s performances were focused and controlled as he weaved his sultry vocals through classics he wrote — the ballads “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Ooh Baby Baby,” chief among them. Producers [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content