Unlike the previous few Arctic Monkeys albums, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino mostly dispenses with the post-millennium indie rock that defined the band. There’s little of their rock ‘n’ roll swagger here; instead, Turner settles into various Bowie eras (a little Berlin, some Ziggy, plenty of the jazz-inflected tunings that informed Bowie’s later records), complete with space-age themes, plus modern-day hip-hop flourishes and some vintage easy-listening from the ’60s.
They don’t entirely forget to rock ‘n’ roll. “Four Out of Five” is closer to the Bowie you hear on classic-rock radio than the more experimental Bowie that came later in his career, and “She Looks Like Fun,” despite its cheery title, is all dark menace and stinging guitar notes.
Still, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino can’t help but sound like a detour for Arctic Monkeys, like Turner’s side project the Last Shadow Puppets, but with space-age cocktail music replacing the strings and horns. It certainly gets them out of their comfort zone; even the buzzing guitars of “Golden Trunks” seem to be part of the support crew instead of the main event. And the album flows in a way other Arctic Monkeys records couldn’t quite latch onto.
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