First listen: Lounging in space with the Arctic Monkeys

ARCTIC MONKEYS: Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

All the reviews warning that the new Arctic Monkeys is like nothing they’ve ever done before … believe them.

There’s not a rock’n’roller in sight. There’s barely a guitar. And song structure? Pah! Who needs it.

Instead, each song is a rambling, lounge singer’s take on the world we see daily on cable news, as if Alex Turner is sitting alone at a piano in a red velvet club somewhere in space with nothing but a half empty bottle of whiskey to keep him company.

‘I’m so full of shite, I need to spend less time stood around in bars waffling on to strangers,’ he sings in She Looks Like Fun.

See? It’s that sort of album.

But is it any good?

I don’t know. But I enjoyed it. I imagine this is what Kid A felt like to hardcore Radiohead fans, or Achtung Baby to U2 devotees, or Sgt Pepper’s to … you know, those people. I’m not sure it’s that a big a statement in terms of musical history, but it’s that big a shift for Arctic Monkeys.

Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is certainly lush, it’s certainly recorded for vinyl, and if there’s any continuity with previous AM releases, it’s Turner’s lyrics, which are as potent as ever—though a little less about the world at his front door, and more the world from a distance (specifically, from an interstellar stopover called Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino).

The best I can say about this first listen is that I immediately put it back on for a second.

Favourite lyric: “The leader of the free world reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks.” Favourite track: Four Out of Five. Biggest gripe about the vinyl: The mix on certain tracks, like Four Out of Five, is muddy, particularly in the vocal. May be intentional. Again, it’s that sort of album.