Alex Turner’s Piano-Driven Tracks Miss the Mark in ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’

By: Graham Eisenhauer
OwlFeed Journalist

I was probably 11 or 12 when I discovered my first Arctic Monkeys album: Whatever People Say I Am Is What I’m Not. Since then, I’ve been a very big fan. This latest album has me sort of bummed.

The album begins very slowly, with the first couple songs sounding mostly the same. However, eventually the second half or so of the album feels to pick up, with tracks like “Four Out of Five” (despite this song being way too long.)

Alex Turner seems to try and take on a vintage, Bowie-esque take on this record. However, the vocals sound very muddy. This was a disappointment for me, as one of the main reasons for my love for Arctic Monkeys is Alex’s writing and voice.

AM (1)
Zackary Michael

The album has orchestration throughout, as well as some light spacy synths. “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip” pulls this off somewhat well, and gives me a Lou Reed vibe.

The only song that really stood out to me was “The Ultracheese.” The lyrics really stood out to me, and the overall soundscape really reminded me off of something Suck It and See. This song really shows that Turner may have most likely fell in love with the piano during the writing of this album.

Alex explained to BBC that the “guitar had lost its ability to give me ideas.” Because of this, this album was written almost completely by piano. The occasional dredging feeling throughout is most likely caused by Turner’s inexperience with writing through piano.

There are songs of space, technology and the future throughout. This is even seen on the cover art with surrealist, contrasting symbols and images. “Star Treatment” even makes a clever note about today’s binge-watching culture with a lyric like “everybody’s on a barge floating down the endless stream of great TV.”

At one point, Turner basically exclaims to the world, “technological advances really bloody get me in the mood,” on the title track. Whether this is to be taken literally or not, some of Alex’s songwriting may be put into question.

Overall, this album may end up growing on me, but for now I don’t see myself interested in any song besides “The Ultracheese.” If I was absolutely forced to score this album, I would give it a 4/10.

Personally, I would rather listen to AM, which I thought I really disliked the direction of. However, I could hardly get myself through my first listen of this new record. I hope to see Alex and the rest take a different direction for their next one.