– Iryna Byelyayeva
Isn’t it wonderful when your much-loved artists release music that aligns with your thoughts? I’ve recently been spending a significant amount of time dreaming about living in a space pod, and planning exactly what furniture it would have and what books etc. All I want is to wear a sparkly jumpsuit and float around in space, having cocktail parties—so thank you to Arctic Monkeys for adding to my aesthetic day dreams.
Coming from Alex Turner, this album makes perfect sense as a progression from AM (2013). AM finishes on ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, an adaptation of Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s now infamous poem of the same name—despite the ridiculous backing track Cooper Clarke decided to use for his original, the poem has now become a weird symbol of romance and is read out at heaps of weddings. Turner went a little off-script for his version and added in some new lines, but really the Arctic Monkeys’s version of ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ feels like the true one. So it was no surprising when, five years after AM, Turner released an album of pretty much just his own stand-up poetry, with some synths and bass guitar in the background.
‘American Sports’ is the perfect example of this—and 100 percent the song I’m going to play when my space pod is trying to escape some spacey natural disaster. You can just imagine him standing there, in a semi-crowded bar in North Fitzroy, his sepia-aviators on, eyes closed, smashing out the words to some sporadic clicks from his friends.
I don’t mean to patronise this album, I love this album. Albums that paint a picture are an absolute pleasure and something I wait for all the time; it’s like theatre but you get to guide your imagination to thinking what the characters look like and what the everything means. ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, Mark speaking, please tell me how may I direct your call’ is such a great, simple line that instantly brings us into the story.
Listening to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino you can’t mistake it for being anything other than a fiction. You can zone out and not pay attention to the words, but you know that in your head some action is taking place, and some very glamorous people with odd haircuts are drinking champagne. It’s evocative of a time and a place, and yes it’s successful in this imagery because of all the pop culture that’s come before it, but still props to Turner for evoking a landscape that doesn’t actually exist.
(I think if I lived in a space pod I probably wouldn’t go for the weird haircut thing—definitely more of a Jane Jetson than a Judy.)
The dark horse of the album is ‘She Looks Like Fun’. The moment I saw the title I crossed myself and said a little prayer for it to please not be offensive, please don’t take Alex Turner from me. This is the song you shouldn’t zone out to, even though its composition might make you want to. The lyrics are delightful. Having a song that follows up the verse ‘Finally, I can share with you through cloudy skies/ Every whimsical thought that enters my mind/ There’s no limit to the length of the dickheads we can be’ with just ‘Bukowski’ feels like a breath of fresh air.
Alex Turner has always been a wonderful lyricist, but now he’s evolving and is ready to be the next weird poet in glasses we’re waiting for, so it’s so bloody relieving to hear awareness in these songs—he won’t be Bukowski, and my little prayer was answered.
This album has split up some fans, which is understandable, but I can’t hate it. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is so literary, it’s so dishevelled-man-scribbling-in-his-notebook (which I’m obviously a sucker for) that it exists separate to the previous albums. If I were a soft boy on Tinder I would absolutely send girls my interpretations of the lyrics. But I’m not, instead I’m a soft girl making a Pintrest mood board of my future space pod, listening to this album, and bloody loving it.