Track of the week

Hunned Bandz

Tanukichan

Domino Recording / 2018
8.0

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino


Arctic Monkeys

By: Johnny Cate

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is a twisted joy of a record.

“I’ve played to quiet rooms like this before,” sings frontman Alex Turner early on, acknowledging the truth: Tranquility Base will be Arctic Monkeys’ most unpopular album. Rolling Stone, that bastion of boomer-driven musical obtuseness, has already deemed it a failure.

Turner knows the smash-hit directness of AM created a logical conclusion in many minds: the next Monkeys record would keep chasing that international success recipe. Almost in apology, he sings at the outset of Tranquility Base: “Bear with me man, I lost my train of thought…”

The fuck-tons of Spotify listens that graced every track of AM won’t happen here, and I’m willing to bet most of the people who found a home in AM’s guitar gravity won’t find one in Tranquility Base’s keyboard aura.

Because Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino isn’t a home. It’s an oblique sonic summer vacation into the void (appropriately released in early May). Turner has flipped the anti-grav switch and sucked us into space to join him at his dystopia-utopia on the moon from which the album draws its name.

What follows is all the fun you can have (if you let yourself have it). Jesus fills out information forms in the day spa. There’s a taco stand on the roof called Information Action Ratio. A swamp monster with a hard-on for “connectivity” lurks the grounds.

On first listen, the record feels like a dose of absurdist escapism from these all-too-twisted days, and it can be that. But if you’re willing to peel back the weird layers of this thing, you’ll find some of the most compelling social commentary you’ve ever heard.

Few song writers can unmoor themselves from reality as a means of offering commentary on reality, but Turner proves he is one of them, coming close to being on poetic par with Bob Dylan as a lyricist.

Where Dylan gave us Highway 61 Revisited, a fever-dream of the mid-century West that made no sense while somehow making complete sense, Turner’s version is Tranquility Base, where capitalism collides with digitalism in deep space, “the leader of the free world reminds you of a wrestler wearing golden trunks” and our narrator launches his new cologne called Integrity, so he can “sell the fact that [he] can’t be bought.”

Turner uses the anti-gravity of the lunar setting to create a kind of psychological anti-gravity that allows us to hear things we’ve heard before but understand just how fucking weird they actually are. The irony of “4 Out of 5” is especially hilarious—in 2018 we use the celestial symbol of stars to rate our taco stands (and pretty much every other piece of junk available in the age of Yelp and Amazon.)

Sonically, Tranquility Base sounds like Nancy Sinatra fell into the Twilight Zone. “Golden Trunks” hoists a guitar line into your ears that sounds ripped from a 1930’s radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. While one song is explicitly called “Science Fiction”, the whole record could be described as capturing a science fiction tone, and Turner gives his reasoning: “I want to stay with you, my love, like some science fiction does.”

It is an eclectic sound, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for certain listeners not to be captured by it. But that’s part of the joy. Turner and the boys have ascended to such heights, but at the end of the day, they’re doing whatever the hell they want to do, and in no way did they let the success of AM hold them hostage.

Where AM presented a play-it-on-repeat hit cache, here Arctic Monkeys are going for a different kind of permanence, and it works. The album broods in your psyche even after you’ve finished listening, and the absurd events presented in the album start to seem less absurd when you return to earth and see a world in which headline news is now whether the president of the united states can legally block other users on Twitter.

It’s the startling hidden claim Turner makes at the heart of the record—the dystopia isn’t a coming science-fiction future. It’s already here and we’re living it. All you have to do is look around.

And yet, it still feels good to go to Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino with its “Martini Police” and newly redecorated, low-lit rooms where windows look out over the grey scape of the moon. It’s a relaxing dystopia with lunar-lounge tunes and lyrics you know mean something but can’t quit put your finger on it.

Or do they? Is there a prophecy or prescience to all Turner’s weirdo babble? In what could be considered the record’s sign-off line, in the final 60 seconds of “The Ultracheese,” he sings: “It might look like I’m deep in thought, but the truth is I’m probably not…”

This sudden declaration throws doubt over everything we’ve heard over the past 39 minutes. Maybe it is all just absurdity and vanity, and if it is, that’s ok, because Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is ready to take us in and help us forget.

And so we return to the location/vacation aspect of Tranquility Base—we’re here to relax… right? Sure.

If there’s one thing that’s true about a good vacation, it never seems quite long enough. At a tight 40 minutes, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino leaves me asking the best question I could ask at the end of the record—

Can I get just one more song?

Random lyrical gem:
“What do you mean you’ve never seen blade runner?”

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino


Arctic Monkeys

By: Johnny Cate

Domino Recording / 2018
8.0

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is a twisted joy of a record.

“I’ve played to quiet rooms like this before,” sings frontman Alex Turner early on, acknowledging the truth: Tranquility Base will be Arctic Monkeys’ most unpopular album. Rolling Stone, that bastion of boomer-driven musical obtuseness, has already deemed it a failure.

Turner knows the smash-hit directness of AM created a logical conclusion in many minds: the next Monkeys record would keep chasing that international success recipe. Almost in apology, he sings at the outset of Tranquility Base: “Bear with me man, I lost my train of thought…”

The fuck-tons of Spotify listens that graced every track of AM won’t happen here, and I’m willing to bet most of the people who found a home in AM’s guitar gravity won’t find one in Tranquility Base’s keyboard aura.

Because Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino isn’t a home. It’s an oblique sonic summer vacation into the void (appropriately released in early May). Turner has flipped the anti-grav switch and sucked us into space to join him at his dystopia-utopia on the moon from which the album draws its name.

What follows is all the fun you can have (if you let yourself have it). Jesus fills out information forms in the day spa. There’s a taco stand on the roof called Information Action Ratio. A swamp monster with a hard-on for “connectivity” lurks the grounds.

On first listen, the record feels like a dose of absurdist escapism from these all-too-twisted days, and it can be that. But if you’re willing to peel back the weird layers of this thing, you’ll find some of the most compelling social commentary you’ve ever heard.

Few song writers can unmoor themselves from reality as a means of offering commentary on reality, but Turner proves he is one of them, coming close to being on poetic par with Bob Dylan as a lyricist.

Where Dylan gave us Highway 61 Revisited, a fever-dream of the mid-century West that made no sense while somehow making complete sense, Turner’s version is Tranquility Base, where capitalism collides with digitalism in deep space, “the leader of the free world reminds you of a wrestler wearing golden trunks” and our narrator launches his new cologne called Integrity, so he can “sell the fact that [he] can’t be bought.”

Turner uses the anti-gravity of the lunar setting to create a kind of psychological anti-gravity that allows us to hear things we’ve heard before but understand just how fucking weird they actually are. The irony of “4 Out of 5” is especially hilarious—in 2018 we use the celestial symbol of stars to rate our taco stands (and pretty much every other piece of junk available in the age of Yelp and Amazon.)

Sonically, Tranquility Base sounds like Nancy Sinatra fell into the Twilight Zone. “Golden Trunks” hoists a guitar line into your ears that sounds ripped from a 1930’s radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. While one song is explicitly called “Science Fiction”, the whole record could be described as capturing a science fiction tone, and Turner gives his reasoning: “I want to stay with you, my love, like some science fiction does.”

It is an eclectic sound, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for certain listeners not to be captured by it. But that’s part of the joy. Turner and the boys have ascended to such heights, but at the end of the day, they’re doing whatever the hell they want to do, and in no way did they let the success of AM hold them hostage.

Where AM presented a play-it-on-repeat hit cache, here Arctic Monkeys are going for a different kind of permanence, and it works. The album broods in your psyche even after you’ve finished listening, and the absurd events presented in the album start to seem less absurd when you return to earth and see a world in which headline news is now whether the president of the united states can legally block other users on Twitter.

It’s the startling hidden claim Turner makes at the heart of the record—the dystopia isn’t a coming science-fiction future. It’s already here and we’re living it. All you have to do is look around.

And yet, it still feels good to go to Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino with its “Martini Police” and newly redecorated, low-lit rooms where windows look out over the grey scape of the moon. It’s a relaxing dystopia with lunar-lounge tunes and lyrics you know mean something but can’t quit put your finger on it.

Or do they? Is there a prophecy or prescience to all Turner’s weirdo babble? In what could be considered the record’s sign-off line, in the final 60 seconds of “The Ultracheese,” he sings: “It might look like I’m deep in thought, but the truth is I’m probably not…”

This sudden declaration throws doubt over everything we’ve heard over the past 39 minutes. Maybe it is all just absurdity and vanity, and if it is, that’s ok, because Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is ready to take us in and help us forget.

And so we return to the location/vacation aspect of Tranquility Base—we’re here to relax… right? Sure.

If there’s one thing that’s true about a good vacation, it never seems quite long enough. At a tight 40 minutes, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino leaves me asking the best question I could ask at the end of the record—

Can I get just one more song?

Random lyrical gem:
“What do you mean you’ve never seen blade runner?”