Arctic Monkeys’ 2018 album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’, was a shock to many Monkey’s fans who loved them for their relatable anthems of club conquests, drunken voicemails and unrequited love. This fresh take on psychedelic rock transported listeners to drinking martinis in a retro hotel on the moon, a world away from Sheffield bouncers throwing them to the curb after a few cans of Stella.
After the success of AM, Alex Turner took to the alien world of LA for a change of scenery. This consisted of drug-fuelled nights roaming the artificial streets of the city and learning the piano during the early hours of the morning. AM immensely grew the Arctic Monkeys fan base, especially in America, which the band has only dabbled into over the years. Do I Wanna Know? hit over 1 billion views on YouTube! But, instead of falling into the trap of producing what works (and would earn them millions in the States), the band took a risk…
I went into listening to this album expecting typical British rock’n’roll, with memories of their 2013 AM album in my mind. Admittedly, I wasn’t impressed at first. But, after another listen and deep delving into the lyrics, it quickly became my favourite album by the band. I immersed myself into Turner’s existential, surreal world and was captivated by cheesy lyrics like “dancing in my underpants, I’m gonna run for government” and nihilistic lines like “everybody’s on a barge floating down the endless stream of great TV.”
This album kicks off with the absurdly brilliant song Star Treatment, which starts with the iconic lyric “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes”. This starts the story for the album. In this dystopian hotel, Turner is the lead singer for a band called The Martini Police, and he contemplates how he is a wash-up star whose dreams of being a member of The Strokes are long gone. Turner has been asked about this line by many journalists, and the best quote to understand what he means by it is “Did The Strokes line feel too close to home? Yeah, absolutely. But you can’t let that stop you. That whole thing of ‘Oh my God, what they gonna think this means? You can’t really work like that.”
Throughout the album, there are many references to dystopian/sci novels and films as well as nods to philosophers and writers. This is one of the reasons why I love this album so much. There is a whole think bubble around it, you could even consider it ‘lore’ of the world that Turner has created. Here are some of the best, most interesting references:
The song title ‘One Point Perspective’, is taken from Stanley Kubrick’s filming technique.
Lyric “1984, 2019” nodding to George Orwell’s novel 1984.
“What do you mean you’ve never seen Blade Runner”, a clear reference to the 1984 film Blade Runner.
Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino is satire, humourous and glamourous. It explores capitalism and media consumption in 2018, the year of fake news and overly-political social media use. It is a real staple of this point in time and will be listened back on by future generations to understand the era.