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  • Writer's pictureR’nR With Rylo

Spin #96 : Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino : Arctic Monkeys





SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #96


Artist's or bands who have changed their sound over the course of their career is not a new concept to understand. When it comes to the easiest example, I think of The Beatles and what they achieved in such a short time - 7 years, 7 months and 24 days to be exact. You can also look at modern bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kingswood, Panic! At the Disco and now - Arctic Monkeys. This week we are spinning the sixth studio album from the Sheffield rockers as our 96th selection from the R'nR collection. Arctic Monkeys have featured before as one of our Sunday Drops - check it out by clicking here. I have no issues with a band trying to change up their sound in order to feel the same passion they felt when they first started making music.


In 2018, they released an album like no other record they had previously released and at first it came as a shock to a lot of people. That's because the previous album, titled AM, was such a solid rock 'n roll album and has some of their biggest hits on it. Sometimes in order to keep improving, you have to test your comfort zone boundaries and that is exactly what the band have done on this album. Alex Turner decided to use the time in between albums to re-charge and re-energise himself and get the creative juices flowing. Some of the best albums begin on the piano and I feel a lot of these songs started out that way, in order to get some lyrics out and hear some notes. Maybe he liked what he was dabbling around with so much that he felt the band could pull off a new sound.


While looking more into this album, I found out that the Arctic Monkeys put on a movie festival of films that help inspire 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino'. An album that is more of a concept album or collection of short stories all bunched together, around the theme of a hotel + casino on the moon. The Arctic Monkeys become the house band and they have nailed the '70s vibe, yet current feel too. It feels retro and modern all at once. I was worried about the songs being intertwined into a set-list with 'R U Mine' or 'Teddy Picker' for example, but it works. If you get a chance to listen to or purchase their live vinyl from a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, make sure you do.


We have mowed the lawns, washed the cars and primed the pool for swimming on this 37 degree Summer's day! It feels like Night Kat Kiz and I have achieved some milestones, but also accepting that our work as parents is never done. I've rolled the front windows down and turned the air conditioning on low for today, might spin this one outside by the pool side (in the shade obviously). Who doesn't love a bit of Arctic Monkeys by the water's edge! I love having a portable option to listen to records for moments like these.


Image: Nick O'Malley (Bass), Jamie Cook (Guitar), Matt Helders (drums), Alex Turner (Vocals, Guitar, Piano)









It's time to #dropthestylus on the 2018 album, 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino' and I hope that you have found yourself somewhere comfortable to sit as you follow along.


The water is refreshing on this warm day and the sounds of opening song, 'STAR TREATMENT' are heard through the Marshall Woburn II speaker. Luckily we are not drinking by the pool because Turner and the band are singing about the 'Martini Police' coming for you on this track and the charm lies in the lyricism and story being told. I urge you to put on some headphones or turn the volume up on this album and pretend that they are playing live in front of where you are. If you don't like it straight away, don't let it turn you off - this album is a grower and requires multiple listens to take it all in. It really is too much to comprehend upon the first listen and you'll be rewarded for sticking by it. I'm watching the wasps flying around our pool and interested by the bait in our backyard, hopefully keeps them away and bring more bees to the gardens. The vocal recordings were completed at Turners home or different studios in Paris and London while the music was recorded after. It gives the vocals that distinct front of speaker sound and works really well.


Our daughter said goodbye to her daycare this week and it was very sad because she didn't realise it was her last day with some of the teachers. Night Kat Kiz and I did and we know that she will make friends at the daycare closer to home, but the old location has been a part of our growing family over the last 4-5 years. We decided to move her closer because our son will begin primary school in a few weeks. It just made too much sense. We have also been reading stories with them this week and Night Kat Kiz and our son even used their imaginations to come up with an original story involving a character named Mummykins. I even tried a Yorkshire accent while reading 'The Secret Garden' to our daughter and ended up laughing at the sound of my voice.


Bowie, McCartney and Springsteen have all done it, why not the Arctic Monkeys? Create an album with songs written for the piano initially. A perfect way to get over some writer's block is by playing what you hear in your head. A tune or melody evolves into a chorus or verse and before you know it, you have a song. Easier said than done but the sounds of the keys open second track, 'ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE'. I think the solos and lyricism on this one make it my favourite track on the album, but it was close. When Turner sings, "Bear with me man, I've lost my train of thought", it gives him a chance to gather his thoughts and us as the listener to enjoy the music being played. Dylan and Morrison would be very happy with the layers of interwoven and intricate wordplay throughout the album too.


Haunting organ style sounds are heard on third song, 'AMERICAN SPORTS' and compared to the opening songs, the vocals come through the speaker a bit darker. I like finding out facts and found out that Turner's grandfather helped him with the line of, "The trainer's explanation was accepted by the steward". He will write down phrases and work them into songs. It's tough coming up with new material all the time but it is a phrase that stands out on this song. Why is it called 'AMERICAN SPORTS'? I honestly have no idea but we have the NFL on in the background and the Packers are playing the 49rs in the Playoffs. C'mon Packers!


I'll put a link here for the music video of 'TRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL+CASINO' because I think it's worth watching. Click here to see. It will give you the visuals to go with the album and help grow your fascination for what the Arctic Monkeys are trying to achieve. Turner is walking through the foyers of different hotels, casinos and being almost an overseer too for the surveillance. I noticed that he has different facial hair throughout the music video, almost showing different timelines or personas. This is the title track and one of the more accessible songs on the album. Plus, 'Mark' is always answering the phone and providing support to those on the other end of the line. While this song is playing, I am looking at the cover of the album again. It is a scale model of what the moon hotel and casino will look like. Turner is fascinated by it, almost obsessed with it and the ideas behind it. Will anyone turn up to the moon and stay there? The song has a slappin' bass line played by O'Malley and it almost steals the show. "Technological advances really bloody get me in the mood" is probably the best line of the song.


Our children's ears pricked up when the guitar work on 'GOLDEN TRUNKS' started coming through. As this album is playing I am picturing more of the documentary or short film that never was about these songs. I think the band should delve into making a short feature film about this album and soundtrack. The last song on Side A feels like the last song the house band would play before an intermission. I really enjoyed the backing vocals on this one too. The stylus comes to the dead wax of Side A and lets us know that it is time to flip the LP over and drop the stylus on Side B. Don't worry, I made sure that I dried my hands first before touching the record.


Favourite lyric:

"Singsong 'round the money tree. This stunning documentary, that no one else unfortunately saw. Such beautiful photography, It's worth it for the opening scene. I've been driving 'round listening to the score, or maybe I just imagined it all. I've played to quiet rooms like this before. Bear with me man, I lost my train of thought" ~ One Point Perspective - Side A 

Probably the biggest song from the album opens Side B called, 'FOUR OUT OF FIVE'. The piano playing on this song in particular is addictive to listen to and it just seems like the shackles are off and expectations of what they are supposed to sound like are gone. They're playing with a new sense of freedom and having a lot of fun doing it. I've added the music video for this one too - click here. This is kind of the marketing song to get people to stay at the fictional hotel and casino. Turner sings, "Take it easy for a little while, come and stay with us, It's such an easy flight. Cute new places keep on popping up since the exodus, it's all getting gentrified. I put a taqueria on the roof, it was well reviewed. Four starts out of five, and that's unheard of".


Up next is probably the most interestingly named song called, 'THE WORLD'S FIRST EVER MONSTER TRUCK FRONT FLIP'. I've watched some Monster Jam with the kids on the tele and they do some pretty cool things. I'll have to take the kids when they're a bit older, but the Monster Trucks are so loud and I think it may scare them at the moment. I love that a song or album can be hated and loved by people. The band must be happy with their efforts to create such an album that divides opinions and invites healthy conversations and debate. I think they did something similar on their newest album, 'The Car' but I'll leave that for another spin. I'm getting Beatles vibes from this track, either White Album or Magical Mystery Tour style song. Also, Bowie on Hunky Dory vibes coming through. Let me know on our social pages or in the comments below if you felt that way when listening along.


I've heard the live version of this song and seeing Turner cut shapes on the stage was fun to watch. 'SCIENCE FICTION' has a groovy rhythm throughout and the layered sound coming through the Marshall speaker draws you in to listen that little bit more closely. There are some cool soundscapes on this song but you'll have to pay attention. The title of this song is easy because it's the overarching theme for the album. Some of the movies that inspired this album have been added to our watch list : The Red Circle (1970), The Conversation (1974), L'Eclisse (1962), World on a Wire (1973), Le Cercle Rouge (1970) and Spirits of the Dead (1968) to name a few. Last night we played a murder mystery game (thanks mum and dad). It was very cool and allowed Night Kat Kiz and I to work as a team to solve a case - all evidence provided. I won't give any spoilers here regarding the case, unless you have solved the 'Tasmanian Terror - On the Case' game and you can private message me on instagram.


Another song that I've watched the live version online and also this version of is called, 'SHE LOOKS LIKE FUN'. A different style song with the overall structure being played and it definitely stands out from the other songs on the album. What is your favourite Arctic Monkeys song on this album so far? I had a quick flick through the lyric book earlier in the week and this song is printed on the wax style paper. Keep an ear out for Turner singing, "Cheeseburger". I've probably heard this album 30 times over now and regard it as a masterpiece in style. When the guitar solo comes around the 2 minute mark, I picture George Harrison standing beside them on stage. Maybe because they are on the moon it could be a hologram paying homage to him.


'BATPHONE' is almost a giant poem and changes the sound again compared to the last song. I don't think there is a chorus to be honest but it doesn't need one. We are listening to this by the poolside and I missed a bit of it when under the water but how interesting are the lyrics, "Have I told you all about the time that I got sucked into a hole through a handheld device?". Did this album and era of the band get overlooked? By the majority of people, yes. A lot of iconic movies are often overlooked when they are released and appreciated later in life by different generations. I think that this will be the case with 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino' too. If you don't own a copy of this album, find it if you can. It's going to be hard to find in the future.


Last song before the album wraps up and also the house band show closer. I picture Freddie Mercury sitting by the piano, playing this one and smiling to the crowd as the lights go out. 'THE ULTRACHEESE' starts off with, "Still got pictures of friends on the wall, I suppose we aren't really friends anymore. Maybe I shouldn't ever have called that thing friendly at all". This was the other song that almost became my favourite. I did say it was a difficult decision and this song makes you want to flip the LP over and spin Side A again. A lovely piano driven ballad that will get you all swaying side to side as you listen. An interesting name for the song too. This song makes me feel that I don't do enough fun things in this short life or that I need to read more stories to the kids. Things like that. Time is short and before you know it....the stylus has stopped on the album.


Thanks for joining us on your Sunday afternoon and spending it with myself (Rylo) and my little family. No one got the difficult clues this week, so I will give an extra one or make it a bit easier for next week. I might go and check out some Strokes albums now and get back in the pool soon. Hopefully you are all keeping cool on this hot Sunday. Keep spinning records, laughing, dancing and letting loose. Don't be afraid to sing out loud either. Our son got a really nice message in his fortune cookie this week, 'Happiness will always follow you'.


"The arrival of The Strokes changed what music I was listening to, what shoes I was wearing. I grew my hair out and borrowed my mum's blazer" - Alex Turner


Until our next Spin, be Kind to house bands on the moon and be Kind to your Wax!

 

YEAR RELEASED

2018

PRODUCED BY

JAMES FORD & ALEX TURNER

LABEL

DOMINO

PRICE RANGE

$60+AUD

SPEED PLAYED AT

33 1/3 RPM

ALBUM BEFORE

AM (2013)

ALBUM AFTER

THE CAR (2022)

FURTHER LISTENING

ROOM ON FIRE (2003)

FAVOURITE SONG

ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE OR THE ULTRACHEESE

RATING OUT OF 5

5 !!! (NOT 4 OUT OF 5 LIKE THE SONG)

WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE

1 x CLEAR HEAVYWEIGHT LP, GATEFOLD SLEEVE WITH IMAGERY OF TURNER AND MODEL, LYRICS BOOKLET WITH PROJECTOR STYLE SHEETS -RETRO VIBE


TRACK LISTING

LP / SIDE

SONG

TRACK LENGTH

​SIDE A

STAR TREATMENT

5:54

ONE POINT PERSPECTIVE

3:28


AMERICAN SPORTS

2:38


TRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL & CASINO

3:31


GOLDEN TRUNKS

2:53

SIDE B

FOUR OUT OF FIVE

5:12


THE WORLD'S FIRST EVER MONSTER TRUCK FRONT FLIP

3:00


SCIENCE FICTION

3:05


SHE LOOKS LIKE FUN

3:02


BATPHONE

4:31


THE ULTRACHEESE

3:37


Arctic Monkeys up on stage






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