Alex Turner wrote Arctic Monkeys’ sixth album in Los Angeles on an loyal piano in his spare room. Because it took form, he christened his makeshift studio the Lunar Ground, after the hypothesis that Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo moon landing on a soundstage. When Turner assembled his bandmates, they had been shrinking to ranking he’d utilized this belief literally: Tranquility Outrageous Hotel & Casino is a tune suite documenting a futuristic moon colony and the exodus that spawned it, told by an assortment of unreliable narrators who can on occasion barely string a sentence collectively. After 2013’s wildly successful AM, Turner is now writing lyrics in an fully new idiom, swapping witty sleaze for absurdist suave.
Against the potentialities, the resulting LP finds the passe side highway poet at his most visionary: cloth most attention-grabbing he would possibly possibly well additionally write, performed with a charm and bravado that most attention-grabbing he would possibly possibly well additionally pull off. He veers from croons to falsetto, splicing collectively hyperrealist satire, sham biography, and interstellar escapism. Glints of social commentary yield to the whims of his narrators—forgetful, distractible oddballs and inebriated egomaniacs who don’t maintain any correct to be so charming.
At a studio in an worn Parisian mansion, the band dreamed up an alluring retro-futurist backdrop for Turner’s innovations. Harpsichords, classic keyboards, and attach-age synths are cobwebbed collectively. The music borrows from that mid-’70s second when the Walker Brothers resembled an avant-garde funeral band, while Turner sings drolly surreal one-liners and play-acts as a vanquished lounge singer. To spherical off the lunar alienation he spliced his studio renditions with the raw, eccentric vocal demos he’d been recording at dwelling.
The effects of this experiment will divide, pride, bemuse, and bewilder assorted factions of their mountainous fan depraved, particularly disciples of its bluesy predecessor. No singles teed up Tranquility Outrageous Hotel & Casino, and for upright reason: Barely one thing else here invitations casual consumption. There is loads that actively resists it, and that’s likely the purpose.
Turner, who’s 32, has at the moment immersed himself in a pair of books in most cases cited as shorthand for our smartly-liked situation: David Foster Wallace’s Endless Jest and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Loss of life. Unlike Father John Misty, yet every other acolyte of this pop-philosophical literature, Turner threads their solutions into nonetheless storms of insinuation in inform of didactic frenzies. “All people’s on a barge floating down the never-ending stream of gargantuan TV,” he riffs on “Star Medication,” regarded as one of his sassier nods to our fresh spot—what Wallace called the “extraordinary objectless unease” of immersion in visible media.
Turner later references Postman’s “recordsdata-motion ratio,” the belief that that our get entry to to never-ending recordsdata has created a tainted international consciousness: In deciding what to care about, we are worried by preference, and so care a little bit about all the things, in inform of loads about what’s fundamental. On “Four Out of 5,” the “Records-Motion Ratio” is the title of a rooftop taqueria in Turner’s with out note gentrifying moon colony. Here is even handed one of his pet topics, how consumerism can co-decide a salient critique and expend it to promote you new stuff. Whether or no longer he’d win the length of time, he’s descended staunch into a more or less capitalist ennui, borne out in a though-provoking line crooned on “Batphone”: “I originate my scent called Integrity/I promote the indisputable truth that I’m capable of’t be sold.”
Even Turner’s trademark nostalgia, once fastened on ice-cream trucks and “trackie bottoms tucked in socks,” gets a high-down reinvention. On album spotlight “Star Medication,” he glams up cherish David Bowie descending on a lunar bridal ceremony. After recalling a time when he “correct desired to be regarded as some of the Strokes,” Turner drifts staunch into a romantic fantasy about an ex and re-emerges of their again seat, a ghost in the rear-sight mediate, sooner than taking an elevator all of the formula down to Earth to renew his “execute-think residency” as a “lounge singer shimmer.” In an age of hyper-communication and rolling-recordsdata apprehension, it’s fascinating to hear Turner in this hallucinogenic inform, oscillating between abstraction and legend. His first-individual encounters are inscrutable free-affiliation yet the absurdities ring honest. It’s no longer till you’re lured into his headspace that this dissonant poetry begins to align with our dissonant truth.
That dissonance reappears Turner’s fixation on worlds-internal-worlds, the potential one chronicle can collapse into yet every other. It’s a ingredient of his ruptured truth, traceable to any alternative of preoccupations—fluid truth in the false-recordsdata expertise, the wonderland of L.A., the distorting outcomes of celeb or cocaine. Those same lines between truth and representation are unravelling in his Lunar Ground dwelling-studio analogy, in the songs-internal-songs of “Star Medication,” “Science Fiction,” and “The Ultracheese,” and in the hand-carved mannequin of a resort-casino on the file’s quilt, which Turner likens to the scaled-down replicas that resorts prove of their very procure lobbies. He has the air of a lounge-lizard Borges, a meticulous analyst with the gloriously caddish spirit of Serge Gainsbourg, John Cooper Clarke, and Jarvis Cocker rolled into one.
Perchance the gargantuan mystery of Tranquility Outrageous Hotel & Casino is no longer its knotty topics or cryptic lyrics however what’s motivating Turner. With the keys to the most profitable and properly-oiled indie-rock band around, he’s regenerated Arctic Monkeys in service of a delirious and artful satire directed on the foundations of smartly-liked society. Here is no longer an act of yell: Implicated in its sprawl are gentrification, consumerism, and media consumption, however in inform of address these meaty topics, he strafes around them, admiring their transformation in the laboratory of his note systems. In the pause, his helpless wrestle for meaning is what makes him relatable. For all this file’s hubris, the lengthy-touted “generational convey” that’s Alex Turner has by no formula sounded more staunch, or more himself.