Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino: Epitome of Rock Band Growth

Photo: Zackery Michael

The long-awaited sixth album of Arctic Monkeys came out last month. The first time I listened to it, I am confused. Seriously, what are they doing after 5-year hiatus?

I’m an Arctic Monkeys fan since their first album, yet I feel this album really shows them how they have evolved heavily. For me, they have significant sound change from their 4th to 5th album. This time, it’s broader than a sound change which is musical direction. From the first to last track, they aren’t left a mark from their previous album.

The front man and primary songwriter, Alex Turner, composed all of the songs in the album, by using piano. Yes, a piano. How come a change on musical instrument he is using for composing music can affect the entire musical direction for a band?

I don’t really care actually, they can do whatever they want. Let’s just focus on the songs which I think are the highlights on the album:

1. Star Treatment

The opening track has a rare thing in music nowadays: a piano riff. It took a long time until someone finally put piano riff in a rock song! This also marks the “vintage” style that Turner developed in the second album of The Last Shadow Puppets. The structure of the song is kind of new I think, I never heard an Arctic Monkeys song with a riff played in the entire song and various style of singing before. It’s also a bit risky to put up this style since it will bore many people easily, but Arctic Monkeys definitely can pull this off!

2. One Point Perspective

The piano strikes again. The intro starts with it, later accompanied by drums and vocal. In my opinion, this song embarks the atmosphere of the album: jazzy hotel lounge-pop. The other that should get attention in this song is the bass. For me, this album has amazing basslines and this one is my favorite. The electric guitar part reminds me of “Cornerstone”, their earlier hit where the guitar plays the melody that complement the song. This song has a simple structure yet it’s a good one.

3. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

This titular track still has the same formula: simple structure and walking bassline. However, the grooviness in the song is impeccable. The song’s theme and the melody really match, the chorus is the example of a good delivery of such a simple lyric. The harpsichord part (played in the chorus) resembles “Fixing a Hole” by The Beatles, suitable to the song. Also, if you want to hear how smooth Alex’s voice is, listen to this!

4. Four Out of Five

Forget “Do I Wanna Know?”, this one has better riff. The chorus is definitely the sing-along part, really catchy and memorable. The bridge of the song has a complex chord progression which I think this is the first time they made a certain song. Alex sings the chorus part repeatedly in outro which I think it’s too long, however, you can hear 4 beautiful parts assembled: fuzzy electric guitar, chord-based piano, melody-counterpart guitar and harmonized vocal.

5. The Ultracheese

Here’s Alex Turner with contemplate and nostalgic-themed lyric. “Fluorescent Adolescent” was great but this one’s also good. He sings about his nowadays condition and how he used to be treated by his friend. If you remember “The Dream Synopsis” song from The Last Shadow Puppets’ second album, this is like the second part. It has a build-up structure and a 50’s ballad transition near the end of the song. It’s the closing track which I think has the same vibe with “A Certain Romance”, only this one’s slower.

Personally, I think this is a good album. It may contains few memorable songs but this shows the evolution in their music with more complex progression and various musical instruments. Want some advice? Listen to this album on vinyl!