Its an understatement to say that the sixth offering from Arctic Monkeys is going to be controversial.
Any album that deviated from the slick one-liners, moody beats and flash Harry licks of AM was going to prompt a number of people to throw their toys out of the pram.
It propelled Sheffields most eloquent guitar-slinging rebels from being a beloved band to bona fide icons.
Add to that the fact that this record has been eagerly anticipated since 2014 when the bands fifth album was still conquering playlists, and knocking seven shades of shit out of any other rock offering, and you can see why it was always going to be a difficult one to follow.
So, here it is, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Youll hear a lot of people saying its different, but its more like progression.
Never afraid to have a cocoon-to-butterfly moment, Alex Turner and co. have created something which drips with a retro-tinted sonic sheen, that harks back to the rolling hills of Hollywood and its dark lounge bars back in the 70s – except its new.
Theres a distinct vibe to the album: Turner sat at piano, seductively whispering pop culture references or crooning hyperbolic lyrics weighted with wit and whip-crack insight, as Matt Helders, Jamie Cook, and Nick OMalley provide a hypnotic and alluring texture to flesh it out.
Four Out Of Five is a perfect example. It has this enigmatic groove and funk in the baseline, which is balanced out by a sprinkling of guitars as Turner goes all Bowie with his singing over the top. The whole song builds towards a crescendo that features this understated wailing guitar – it sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.
Science Fiction is another standout track. It has (believe it or not) a real sci-fi vibe; like youve stepped into a far-too-cool version of Buck Rogers. Theres a psychedelic sound underpinning everything, but again its the staccato guitars and Helders drumming which meld perfectly with Turners ivory tinkling that really makes it twinkle.
The thing about Tranquility Base is its an album – its something that should be listened to in one go. The swaying and undulating sound that pervades it is a thing of beauty, and it provides surprises that will leave you smiling as youre swept away to a futuristic LA of years gone by.
If anything, its a heavy nod to an age of records thats long gone. So rather than judging it on a track-by-track basis, appreciate it as a whole – a vision, if you like. A grand design… a brave new world.
And what a world the Arctic Monkeys have created, but its certainly one that will only have room for a certain crowd.