Arctic Monkeys

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

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AllMusic Review by

It was inevitable that Alex Turner would incorporate the loungey swagger of his busman's holiday the Last Shadow Puppets into his main gig of the Arctic Monkeys, yet the soft louche touch of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino comes as something of a shock. Chalk it up, perhaps, to the fact that Turner was a mere 32 years old when he unleashed Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino onto the world, a young age that seems older because Arctic Monkeys released their debut when he was just 19. Throughout Tranquility Base, Turner comes across as if he were much, much older than his actual age, cocking an eyebrow to a potential paramour who has the audacity to have never seen Blade Runner, and reminiscing about the '70s -- a decade he never saw. He may have been born at the height of Brothers in Arms, but Turner fetishes the swinging sci-fi '60s, winking at futurism while acknowledging that its starry potential has curdled in the digital age. Tranquility Base hints at these dashed dreams in its stylish soft contours, which are neither retro nor modern: they're hung suspended between these two extremes, sounding precisely like Alex Turner while never touching upon the frenzied, heavy roar of the Monkeys. Perhaps it's easy to miss that youthful punchiness, but the expansive aural horizons of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino suggest there are plenty of avenues for Turner to steer Arctic Monkeys into a fruitful middle age. So, it's an accomplished, slyly snappy, and admirable affair, and yet there still seems to be something lacking -- namely, songs that stick. Turner nails the concept, wallowing in warped dreams and painting widescreen soundscapes, but the foundation is wobbly; at a glance, it's impressive, but the slipshod details reveal themselves upon close inspection.

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