Everything about Arctic Monkey's new record has been quite odd. No lead single, a lowkey promotion cycle, and even the name itself. The sound of the record mirrors this too, as the band attempts to rewrite their formula. However, the Arctic Monkeys miss the mark with their stylistic change in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, attempting something new but failing to truly synthesize it.
There isn't one way to describe the sound of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, but weird definitely comes close. There's a loungey vibe throughout the album, giving it a sort of light drive throughout. Alex Turner's vocals are almost satirical, their suggestively aggressive and wild attitude really making them stand out above the instrumentals. Opening track 'Star Treatment' really sets up the polarizing sound of the record, the simple instrumental led by Turner's dramatic vocals and slow moving, reverberating drums. Title track 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino' is just as weird, but with a darker vibe going for it.
The problem with the record isn't so much the fact that Arctic Monkeys changed their sound. For any band, a change in style is incredibly important. The issue is that the sound of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino just doesn't make a strong connection on first listens. It has all the qualities of an album that everyone understands more as they listen to it, like Radiohead's Kid A. Unlike Kid A, however, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino isn't different or daring enough to warrant another listen. By the end of the record, everything sort of blends together in a way that just feels repetitive. 'Batphone' is just plain dull and boring by the time you get to it. Even 'Four Out Of Five' lacks any punch, and while the vocals on 'The World's First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip' are nice, it's just overall a pretty stale song. Nothing grabs you, it just leaves you waiting for something that will. And that never comes.
Arctic Monkeys miss the mark with their stylistic change in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Perhaps it's an album that'll get better with age, but for now it just sounds like a record that doesn't deliver what it sets up the listener for. It's all build up with no climax, and after awhile it loses its flair.
Favorite Track: One Point Perspective
Least Favorite Tracks: Batphone, She Looks Like Fun
Rating: 56 / 100
Stream or buy Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: