The latest record from Arctic Monkeys thankfully appears to be winning over fans after initial criticism.
Upon its release on Friday (11 May), the album drew middling reactions from many who were surprised by the band’s drastic change of sound. It appears, however, that those who have allowed the record – titled Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – some time to sink in are feeling far more positive about the Sheffield group’s latest release.
Their sixth album is an impressive and ambitious feat that should be celebrated. After a few days and multiple listens, we’ve written a ranking of each and every album track, written by Alex Turner, including the brand new single “Four Out Of Five” – the Stanley Kubrick-inspired video of which you can watch here.
Arctic Monkeys: career in pictures
Arctic Monkeys: career in pictures
Artic Monkeys formed in Sheffield in 2002, releasing their debut album in 2006. Since then they have six studio albums to their name.
Getty/Orion Music + More
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was Arctic Monkeys debut album. It became the fastest selling debut album in British music. It won the Mercury Prize for best album in 2006. The group picked up two BRIT awards also, one for best album and the other best group.
The Arctic Monkeys on stage after winning the Mercury Prize in 2006
The Arctic Monkeys performed at the Reading Festival in 2006
Favourite Worst Nightmare was Arctic Monkeys second album release. It went straight to number one in the UK album charts. It was nominated for the 2007 mercury prize, however lost out to the Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future. They picked up the best album at the BRIT awards for a second year in 2008.
Arctic Monkeys make a video acceptance speech after receiving the Award for Best British Group during the Brit Awards in 2007
The Arctic Monkeys performed on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury in 2007
Arctic Monkeys third album was titled Humbug and was different to their previous albums as they introduced several different instruments that had not featured in the others. The guitar effects were particularly different, alongside multiple keyboards. The album went triple platinum in the UK.
Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys performs during the 2009 Lollapalooza music festival at Grant Park in Chicago.
The fourth album, Suck it and see, was released in 2011. It reached number one in the UK charts in it’s first week and won Mojo award for the best album of 2011.
Arctic Monkeys performing in 2011
The Arctic Monkeys performed during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
AM was Arctic Monkeys fifth album release. Once again, the band were nominated for the mercury prize best album. It was once of their most successful selling albums outside of the UK, with the single Do I wanna know? entering the Billboard Hot 100.
The Arctic Monkeys also picked up the Band award at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in 2013
The Arctic Monkeys headlined Glastonbury Festival in 2013
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is Arctic Monkeys sixth album release, five years after their last. It’s the longest they have gone, during their career, taking to release another album.
11 | “Science Fiction”
“Science Fiction” presents Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino with its first lull, however minor that is. Splitting listeners down the middle (many reviews have cited it as their favourite track), the song serves as the springboard for the record’s thematic undercurrent. “I want to make a simple point about peace and love, but in a sexy way where it’s not obvious,” Turner sings amid eerie instrumentation inspired by German film director Rainer Wener Fassbinder. A standout for anyone else, but one that pales in comparison to far superior songs surrounding it.
10 | “She Looks Like Fun”
A grower of the highest order, this theatrical number is one Miles Kane away from being a Last Shadow Puppets track. The song, fit with backing vocals from Tame Impala’s Cam Avery, provides Helders with his moment as Turner drawls random words (“Cheeseburger!” “Snowboarding” “Bukowski!”) in a bid to tear apart the meaninglessness of social media. If you arrive for that commentary, stay for the mid-section guitar solos which pave the way for the frontman making fun of his own behaviour (“I need to spend less time stood around in bars / Waffling on to strangers all about martial arts,” he sings, a grin clearly on his face).
9 | ”Golden Trunks”
Could “Golden Trunks” go down as one of the album’s most unfairly maligned tracks? The song remains an admirable experiment despite substituting Matt Helders for harmonies and light percussion. While its political undercurrent may deter some, the track peaks in its final half and boasts some of the album’s low-key greatest lyrics. In Turner’s words, it’s the closest thing the album has to a love song.
8 | “Batphone”
It’s with this track – a follow-on from the social media jibe presented in “She Looks Like Fun” – that Arctic Monkeys show just how far they’ve advanced musically in five years. Any band can evolve in sound, but it takes a true mainstay to evolve in skill and “Batphone” is proof of this, a sprawling track that takes a little poking around before slotting into place; when it does, it flies.
7 | “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip”
The theme of social media and clickbait media may be slightly tired but when presented in a wittily-titled ditty such as this, its hard not to be won over. In many ways, this song’s existence – with its carnival vibe – is the one that would have been the most unthinkable just four short years ago. “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip” would be severely missed if not present.
6 | “Star Treatment”
One of their most striking album openers if only for how vastly different it is to every one that has come before. It may not be up there as the most exhilarating of efforts but “Star Treatment” could well be the album’s slowest burn that benefits from each listen. Once you get to grips with the song’s intricacies and (if necessary) the fact this won’t be just another AM), an impressively-recorded song manifests. Perhaps the most introspectively-biographical Turner has ever been, with references to his love of The Strokes and Leonard Cohen as well as the wax he wears in his hair.
5 | “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”
Submit yourself to the record’s title track and you may just find the hairs on your neck springing on end. Explore this song’s rooms and you’ll surprisingly unearth Arctics of old (there are shades of “Don’t Forget Whose Legs You Are” present here) as well as a bass line to die for courtesy of Nick O’Malley. In many ways, this song could well be the most accurate emblem of the group’s new era while still possessing that quintessential sound fans will be hoping for.
4 | “The Ultracheese”
If Alex Turner penned a musical, this would be its highlight most likely deployed before the interval. Perhaps their grandest ballad yet, and the biggest evidence of his newly-acquired Steinway, this ultra cheesy number (see what they did?) is a merging of AM’s “No 1 Party Anthem” and The Last Shadow Puppets’ “Sweet Dreams TN” with reference to the booth featured in “Piledriver Waltz.” With any luck, the album closer – worlds away from previous efforts including “A Certain Romance,” “505” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong” – will become a regular fixture in karaoke booths across the world.
3 | “Four Out Of Five”
On its (lunar) surface, “Four Out Of Five” is the record’s explicit explanation of the namesake establishment it presents. Deeper down, it’s a song criticising the world’s insistence on throwing forward a multitude of things to consume hampering the ability to sit back and enjoy one thing in a larger way.
The result is perhaps the album’s best chance of a ‘mainstream’ song albeit one that features references from Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey (“Clavius”) and Neil Postman book Amusing Ourselves to Death (“the information-action ratio” lending the name to Turner’s fictional rooftop taqueria.
Beginning a more typical affair with a familiar-sounding riff – think “Do I Wanna Know?”s unruly cousin – the song boasts a final half directly reminiscent of latter stage Fab Four with the backing harmonies and repetition evoking “Sexy Sadie” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.
2 | “One Point Perspective”
That one of the album’s best tracks directly precedes the best is no coincidence. In truth, there’s really nothing between this and our pick for number one despite a drastically differing tone. Once you’ve overcome the fact its opening five seconds sound exactly like Robbie Williams song “Something Beautiful” (you won’t be able to unhear it), you’ll discover a track boasting some of the record’s greatest lyrics and vocal delivery born from sitting alone behind that piano gifted to him for his 30th birthday. “Bear with me man, I lost my train of thought,” he sings twice after listlessly wading through ambitions before melancholically realising these won’t come to fruition. A ready-made Arctic Monkeys classic.
1 | “American Sports”
According to Alex Turner, this track is “not the most well-recorded thing” on the album. What “American Sports” is, however, is the jewel in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino‘s crown, a moody dystopian sequel-of-sorts to “Star Treatment” that’s as good as anything Arctic Monkeys have ever produced destined to go down a similar path to one of the group’s most underrated offerings (see also: “Dance Little Liar”). The track’s dramatic piano – played by Mini Mansions’ Tyler Parkford - collides with Turner’s organ to breathe life into this moon-set-track that succinctly sets the tone for the remainder of the record (it’s the shortest track at 02.38). Oh, and it’s “Lolas” not “loners.” Breathtaking.
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is out now via Domino Records
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