New Music 5/11/18: Arctic Monkeys

Hot off the presses: new music!  Better said, new music that is worth your time.

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – 11 songs / 40 minutes

Or, the album in which Alex Turner and friends complete their transformation from guitar-heavy dance-along punk heroes to a synthy lounge act, and frustrate the hell out of me in the process.

 

Two things, right up front: First, I hated this record the first time I heard it.  Like, absolutely, positively didn’t even want to listen to it again.  I felt as though the band I have so thoroughly enjoyed over the past decade had completely deserted me, leaving behind a shell of themselves as some lounge act.  I mean, they have been slowly transforming away from the abrasive, attitude-laced, edgy pop-punk that was their debut, but this was just too much.  Second, I did listen to it several more times, and it actually is a pretty good album.  It just isn’t what I want them to be doing…

This album is even further away from “rock” than their last effort, the amazing but poppy “AM”.  I read some interviews Alex Turner gave when this album came out and learned that this is largely due to the songs being written on piano that was given to him by the band’s manager.  Alex says he had no ideas and then sat in front of that piano and fleshed out some songs quickly, based loosely on the concept of a hotel on the moon.  The cover art and album title convey this, and Alex claims to be inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.

The most obvious allusions to lunar colonization are the title track and the lead single “Four out of Five”, the latter of which is a song about a taco shop on the roof of this hotel on the moon.  This taco shop is called The Information-Action Ratio (coined after 1985 Neil Postman theory in which he claims that we have too much info and don’t know what to do with it).  The restaurant is rated four stars out of five, which Alex wants us to know is pretty impressive.

To be perfectly honest, this is still smartly written and professionally performed music from one of the great bands going today – but I still wish they would pick up some fucking guitars and some swagger and rock out a little bit next time.

Key Tracks: “Four out of Five”, “The Ultracheese”, “She Looks Like Fun”

 

Also heard:

Sevendust – All I See is War

Mark Kozelek – Mark Kozelek

Brett Cobb – Providence Canyon

La Luz – Floating Creatures

Las Rosas – Shadow By Your Side