It’s hardly been a secret that, for the past few years, Alex Turner has been razzmatazzin’ his way across the sidewalks of Los Angeles, shaking his long hair and stomping his boots on concrete. We’ve seen him and his slaphead friend (Miles Kane) quaffing martinis by the double, we’ve listened as his accent has morphed beyond the capabilities of Northern dialect and into the ‘Old Cowboy’ realm, we’ve watched as he karaoke’d the fuck out of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” with A-list celebrity Lana Del Rey. We’ve been there through it all, noses blaring on red alert, and frankly we’re impressed. Hats off to you, Mr Turner. You have made it.
See, remember when Joaquin Phoenix briefly became a rapper and in the end it turned out to be one big piece of method acting, culminating in a film called I’m Still Here? The release of the new Arctic Monkeys album feels sort of like that. Or at least that’s what we’re saying based on a combination of recent appearances, streamlined thought processing and the new band photo – below – which is the kind of thing you only release if: a) you’re posting out holiday postcards from the cult or; b) you're readying the release of a new album with the kind of high-art concept that involves moving to Los Angeles for several years, gloriously losing and then finding your mind, then writing an album about it.
Look at those stares, those dapper, chiselled jowls, the breaking of the fourth wall (by proxy of a photo shoot that includes the photo shoot backdrop, so LA). The album – called Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – can only be a concept album and if it’s not then this is the hill we’re willing to die on. Shoot us, hang us out in the rain, fucking run us over in a car. They say that life is a circle, all roads lead to Rome, woah woah we’re living on a prayer (Jon Bon Jovi, 1986) and so, we can conclude, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is the logical product of Alex Turner’s thought experiment (read: recent life) in Los Angeles. This shit is going to be glorious. From our wingless moles in the City of Angels, here’s what we definitely know about the record:
If the opener isn’t an enormous riff-fest about blowjobs and 1970s-quality cocaine then what is the point? Alex Turner, like Jarvis Cocker before him, is magnificent at writing sleaze in a way that is immensely appealing and completely ridiculous, the album’s named after a hotel, and there are two (2) rollnecks in their new press photo: how could our intro into the world of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino be anything else but dripping with the neon filth of Los Angeles?
One Point Perspective
Presuming that the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is figured as a literal place on the record, this could well be the song that introduces us to its residents – like a montage in song form, showing the listener around every grimy nook and cranny of this new, metaphorical universe, with Turner’s huge capacity for description on full show.
Just when you think it’s all fun and games, this is not about “American Sports” at all. It’s about heartbreak and loss and the nihility of LA life, and Turner will offset his sadness with a typical slice of life, like watching baseball on TV while everything else turns to mush around him. Would bet money on this one.
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
The title track of this album should be a ten-minute, multi-part epic about the loves, losses and misfortunes that take place at the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Give us drama, give us characters, give us the live 40th anniversary episode of any self-respecting soap opera in a song: this band, who have had a penchant for creating a vivid scene since they were describing scraps in the back of taxis, can deliver it.
A blow-by-blow account of some kind of swimming pool accident, apparently.
Four Out of Five
This is definitely the love song, and it’s definitely about a woman characterised as a hotel receptionist.
The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip
Firstly let’s just get it out of the way: this is a breathlessly good song title. It is impossible to not be excited about hearing this song, which kind of suggests the band’ll trick us all and make it an instrumental. That said, I can’t think of anything I’d rather hear than Alex Turner doing spoken word about an All-American monster truck rally, so fingers crossed he delivers.
“Something something LA is futuristic and I feel alienated something”
She Looks Like Fun
Surely the “Arabella” moment of the record.
Not sure why but this screams “riffs.”
Ah yes, the closer, the big finish. Probably not an ode to brie, but perhaps about the concept of “BEING A BIG CHEESE” and “HOW LONELY IT CAN BE,” etc., which feels fitting for an album which is absolutely certainly about being a British rockstar in LA and all the excess and numbness it brings with it. Perfecto, in fact.