It’s as though the skies opened up and the sun shone simultaneously. The rain, the harsh reality of heavy raindrops seems to have poured down over the Arctic Monkeys. Although similarly, the bright, illuminating sunshine began to warm the ground they walk on. How can this be? Sun showers, as some call them, are not an excruciatingly rare occurrence; for the warmer months of spring and summer seem to experience them quite often. Now, as the Arctic Monkeys release their latest record, we are experiencing what I will call a musical sun shower. What is a musical sun shower, you ask? I believe it is when a highly anticipated, long awaited album is finally released, but the songs just do not meet the audience’s expectations. The listener is happy for new content from their favorite band or musician, but had been disappointed that they do not adore the record that they had been waiting for.
Everyone’s favorite indie rock band, Arctic Monkeys, seem to have brought in a musical sun shower with their resurgence. In my opinion, the album is a bit too left field; even for the ever experimental, and profusely talented, Alex Turner. The band who brought us mega hits like “Do I Wanna Know?” and fan favorites like “I Wanna Be Yours” back in 2013 have since taken a hiatus since their mainstream success and grown as artists. The growth is evident, but as a fan of their last album, AM, I do not find the amount of growth and change to their music to be necessary.
I am not the only one who feels indifferent toward Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, for Noel Gallagher, when asked about the album on Radio X, said, “Do you know what? I’ve just been listening to it in the car today on the way here…And I don’t know what to make of it[…],” and that the songs off of it are “not really what you expect from the Arctic Monkeys.” He went on to say that he was looking for a hook or a chorus or something to define a song or the album as a whole, but fell short as he didn’t seem to pick up on one.
Neither did I, for I was searching for that song that grabbed a hold of me and forced me to feel the sunshine during the sun shower and not dwell on the rain. “American Sports” is the only track of this record that I could pluck out and say that I did enjoy. It’s a David Bowie-esque tune filled with an electrifying piano clashing, with an equally as powerful organ. The instruments are paired alongside lyrics that are just as bizarrely cultivated as the rest, but this one seemed to work. The song itself is a follow-up to the opening track, “Star Treatment.” This being a song that had, to me, the most vulnerable and honest lyrics on the album. It’s Turner’s perspective from the get-go, but you have to remember that this album is — to a point — a concept album. “Star Treatment” reflects on Turner’s love of The Strokes, the Blade Runner film series, and Leonard Cohen. It’s good to hear a bit of Turner himself on the song, but it’s all-over-the-place production and exasperatingly long run time makes for a draining opening track.
The Arctic Monkeys have taken the role of directors as they set the scene for a hotel on the moon and the vastly different lifestyles that people live there. They’ve created a fictional world to base their album around, but for those who aren’t into reading deeply into songs, you might not even notice that. The album is a bit far-fetched in every way, but you really can’t dislike hearing Turner’s voice once again — even if it is on their weirdest album to date. It’s been five years since there has been any new music from Arctic Monkeys, so their return in itself is the sunshine in this musical sun shower.