Excitement hit when Monkeys announced they were in the studio recording their sixth album – Base Tranquillity Hotel & Casino. After AM, you can understand the excitement. Fresh from the stage of The Last Shadow Puppets, finally, New Monkeys! Releasing no material before the release, we didn’t know what to expect. I was that excited I pre-ordered the vinyl… if I knew what came, I wouldn’t of bothered.
When it arrived, I was more shocked than anything; unlawfully replacing Monkey’s iconic mix of loud and unique rock with disheartening pop songs about a hotel on the moon. Come again?
There were rumours that Turner would sliver in The Last Shadow Puppets, as he enjoyed the avenue that the band took him and Kane down, but it didn’t think he would make an entire album devoting to it.
Ditching his guitar and taking up the piano, Turner takes it upon himself to deliver different echoic melodies spreading his new ideas from The Last Shadow Puppets on toward his other band. Missing it too much, he has written songs in similar tastes and, has completely lost it in the process.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change. It makes you see one of your favourite artist in a new, fresh light and gives you a whole renounced respect for their musicality. Change is often minimal within music artists, as too much change, would divide your fans and cause controversy. Change is always good.
Turner did the full 360, and just flipped that on its head, essentially creating a Puppets album with a different band. A band that were firmly in the grounds of strong, powerful, punchy rock. Talent goes to waste here. Guitarist Jamie Cook and drummer, Matt Helders are quiet throughout, delivering empty sounds. It’s taken six albums, but its finally the Turner show. He should’ve put this under his solo work.
In live performances, you can tell he has gotten bored of playing the same fast paced songs from their past 5 albums, drastically slowing them down to the same pace as Tranquillity Base Hotel Casino. So, it is no surprise, that he has gone down an entirely different path. But, if that’s the case, stick to The Last Shadow Puppets, and leave Arctic Monkeys out of it. I often wonder if the other bandmates, had their hesitations about it, and how much persuading did it take for Turner to do or did he just do it anyway?
It begins with “Star Treatment,” a 5 minute monologue of Alex Turner’s haphazard lyric choices, but soon becomes monotonous, a tone that you get used to throughout the album.
Next up, is “One Point Persepective,” which apart, from the hammering piano chords, can be mistaken for “Star Treatment.” Same with “American Sports” to be honest. Through lyrical jargon that not even Mr. Spock can decipher, Turner expresses his disappointment and asks for his money back. That makes two of us, Alex.
The only two good songs present on the album is the self-titled, “Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino” and “Four out of Five,” which inherently saves the album from the discard pile. These two songs showcase simple but strong melodies, defiant musical talent within the band and give the album a sense of elegance to it, which is so rarely missed. The best on the album is, “Four out of Five,” which envelopes the concept album well in its little bubble. With its pulsating guitar licks and confident, clever Turner lyrics, it’s a real delight to listen to. Aaaaand this is where I turn off the album.
Giving us an in-depth story that is told so well throughout them, these will be the only two songs that I will happily put on repeat. But do not be mistaken, these songs will not be appearing within The Best of Monkeys playlist of any kind.
There is some good though. It makes me listen to their old music more and more. Just in case, I forget how amazing they were. Something tells me that we aren’t going to get the likes of Your Favourite Worst Nightmare …
Now, I understand that they are not going to still write songs about nights out in Yorkshire 9 years later, but I don’t think a hotel on the moon is the way forward.
That’s just my opinion though, let me know what you think!
BEST SONG: FOUR OUT OF FIVE