Review: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic MonkeysLike many others, I was inclined to ask “what the hell happened?” after listening to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – from surprise announcement already a step away from everything else the Arctic Monkeys has ever done. Up to this point they’ve done variations on hooky, radio-friendly arena tunes, increasingly sludgy as the years went on. Suddenly, we have moody, piano-driven hits reminiscent of overtly romantic (and vivid) lounge pop from the 1960s. Well, Alex Turner‘s delivery – now with more added smirk – ensures this is still an Arctic Monkeys record, but still. Also, we did mention Alex Turner: if you factor in his solo work and his work with the Last Shadow Puppets, you’ll realize this isn’t really that drastic. Or maybe it is. Isn’t it telling that only Alex is doing promotion for the album? This is very much a solo Alex Turner record, influenced by the band’s extended stint in Los Angeles, influenced by all that’s spacey and a bit off-kilter, leading to an album that’s still enjoyable if you’re ready for it. Only I can’t help but wonder what this means for the band as an entity. I don’t think they’re fighting, but with one guy pulling most of the strings, you know… I can’t help but wonder. It’s distracting me from liking the record more, but niggling thoughts are niggling thoughts. [NB]3/5

Review: AM by Arctic Monkeys

AM by Arctic MonkeysArctic Monkeys’ fifth album oddly fits on the dance floor. It’s not necessarily Alex Turner talking about hip hop beats in the production of AM – there’s more to this record than aggressive beats. It’s a continued exploration of the sound they had during Humbug and Suck It And See, down to the Josh Homme appearances (of course), only it’s gotten slinkier and sexier. And oddly classier. The question-mark-y singles pummel in varying degrees (with “Do I Wanna Know?” setting the tone nicely) while the rest of the record goes for a subtler route. “Snap Out Of It” aside, with its “traditional Monkeys” sound, it’s all brooding and crooning and a bit intimidating, knowing that at the end of all the allure is a big shebang. You get out of it safely, but the Arctic Monkeys have proven themselves again. [NB] | 4/5

“It’s three in the morning and I’m trying to change your mind.”

“Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” by Arctic Monkeys | Yep, another new single from the Arctics, off their upcoming album AM. Like the two singles that preceded it, this is sludgy and sexy… but this one is actually playful (and not because of the music video, which mostly revolves around a drunk Alex Turner) and a bit silly. But you can see the desperation creep in. Well played, boys. AM hits stores on 9 September. [NB]

“Do I wanna know if this feeling flows both ways?”

“Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys | Who would’ve thought that the Arctic Monkeys would get this sexy? Should’ve seen the signs when “R U Mine?” was released last year – that was sludgy a la Favourite Worst Nightmare yet slicker and sexier. And then went further in that direction on this, their next single, which has been going around the live circuit for a while now. It’s sludgy and it’s really worth a grind. You know, stick your ass out, brush it towards someone, get slapped with a sexual harassment charge… okay, that aside, this is a really good song. Alex Turner and gang have yet to really do wrong, which amazes me, considering how fast they got here and how they have kept up the quality threshold. Also, that urge to grind. No word if this is another stand-alone single or a taster of a new album – I wish it was the latter, because I need more of this. To, you know, grind. (Update: both this and “R U Mine?” are off a new album, which they’re calling AM, according to the NME.)