From Punk Rock To Piano Lounge: The Arctic Monkeys' New Album Controversy
May 11, 2018|Ariel Rodriguez
When they titled their new album 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,' fans didn't expect the 'tranquility base' part to be so literal.
It’s been five years since the Arctic Monkeys released their last album, AM, and ever since, we've been hitting that replay button to songs like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?,” “Crying Lighting,” and “A Certain Romance,” just to name a few. But the long wait has finally come to an end, and on May 11th, 2018, the British indie rock band, which started distributing their own demos independently back in 2002, released its new album, called Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. What no one saw coming was the reaction from fans on social media to the notorious change of rhythm that the band had made. Some are liking it, but others are calling it “slow,” “weird,” and even “boring.”
This is the British band’s 6th album, and it’s becoming very polemical because of the slow pace and soft beats of the 11 new tracks, mainly piano-based, which is not what fans expected to get from the four energetic, indie rock stars. Although their music's quality has not dropped at all (if anything, it sounds more mature and sophisticated), it doesn’t speak to the band’s history or the fanbase who followed them as teens when they sang about growing up in England. To better illustrate the evolution of their music, here is their fist debut EP, “Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys,” released in 2005:
“Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys”
Notice how the fast drum beats, bass-guitar contrast, and singer Alex Turner’s echoing voice, highlight their energetic punk style? Now, listen to their new song, recently released with the same title as the album, and draw your own conclusions:
"Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino"
Very different, right? Although this isn’t the first time the band plays a melancholic and calm melody (they have other soft songs like “Riot Van”), it's the first time their whole album seems almost unrecognizable, with a new genre. Here are other classics to remind you what the band used to sound like:
"Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair"
"Fake Tales Of San Francisco"
What the critics are saying
Fans aren’t the only tough critics out there, and the band doesn't seem to be getting much good feedback anytime soon. For example, Rolling Stone has rated the band’s album with two out of five stars, while other outlets like the Independent are calling it “one giant leap.” However, this isn’t the first time the band has mixed one style with another. As a matter of fact, their previous album, AM, mixed rock with elements of hip-hop and R&B. Yet, this is the first time they face this kind of backlash and criticism.
Does it have to do with age?
It’s no secret that the band members have grown up: the lead vocalist and guitarist Alexander David Turner, guitarist Jamie Cook, bass-guitarist Andy Nicholson, and drummer Matt Helders, are all in their thirties now. They are no longer the neighborhood teens from Sheffield who would get together after school to practice. The band’s taste and music experiences have evolved, and although they still consider themselves an indie rock band, they hope their fans will follow them everywhere regardless of what they decide to play.
Although you probably won't be jumping to any of these songs at a concert, the band still has five other albums for you to enjoy. After all, this isn't the fist time an artist or band does this. Something similar happened with pop queen Lady Gaga, who went from nightclub beats to acoustic guitar melodies in her last album, Joanne. There are life experiences, and of course, life-changing events that can make an artist change their style. I mean, we can’t expect them to play the same music over and over again forever –after a while, it’s gotta get boring–, but their essence is still in their songs. So what if they sing about parties one day and existential dilemmas the next? Are you a fan of the genre or the artist?
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