A man sitting alone at the bar—a recycled image in pop culture—is the centerpiece of Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. Inspired by the rumor that Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing in a Hollywood studio, this album breathes the drifting and dangerous tone of Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece The Shining. Embodying a lounge singer, frontman Alex Turner takes over the piano, while Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley, and Matt Helders transport listeners to the space station with production pieces akin to 70s glam rock and psychedelia.
The album’s themes revolve around today’s political atmosphere, full of celebrities disguised as politicians, and politicians scandalizing in avoidance of truth. Although the concept is sharp and the instrumentals are just as powerful, the lyrics fall short. Turner’s vision for stream of consciousness lyricism seeds confusion, too cartoonish and whimsical for a Kubrick inspired production. Lizard people, taquerias on the moon, cheeseburgers, Batman, and Donald Trump in golden trunks are all clever—but vague—references thrown into the mix. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is an album Arctic Monkey fans need to judge for themselves. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is a fun venture into space and an interesting twist on the man alone at the bar. Check out the video for the full review.