British rockers Arctic Monkeys took a left-turn on 2013’s AM, swapping brutal and punishing indie anthems for understated late-night groove. On their sixth album Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, Alex Turner and his band of monkeys take another unexpected step.
Musically, this record is quite surprising. Openers Star Treatment, One Point Perspective and the title track create an almost theatrically retro-dystopian vibe, with mellow piano chords, gentle brass, and cinematic string swells, creating a jarring juxtaposition to Turner’s gravelly and echoed vocals. The closest thing it compares to is David Bowie’s Blackstar album – bizarre and compelling in equal measure.
From here the music gradually shifts to menacing and ghoulish organs, plodding bass lines and even more delirious melodies from Turner, starting from American Sports through to Batphone. Put simply, it sounds like a soundtrack to a haunted theme park sci-fi film.
This album is a lot to take in, and it has a sound like nothing else. It’s just a shame there aren’t any standout tracks, making it more interesting than enjoyable.
Edited by Nicole Moraleda