No English band has had the longevity and continued success of Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys in the 21st Century. Formed in 2002, the babyfaced Yorkshire lads, barely old enough to buy a pint, recorded what many believe to be the finest debut album of all time just four years later. Six consecutive number-one albums down the timeline, the band is cemented into the folklore of British pop culture, and their debut album especially encapsulates the mesmeric nostalgia and post-Britpop decadence of the mid-2000s.

The 21st Century Concept Album

Alex Turner, the face of the Arctic Monkeys, won’t be writing or singing the same types of songs he did back in 2006. Their progression as a band has been a very intriguing, winding road. Still, Tranquility Hotel Base & Casino is extremely far removed from one of the biggest albums, AM, which came out to rapturous praise back in 2013. The Arctic Monkeys hadn’t recorded any new music for five years, and the tension before the release of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino was palpable. Nobody knew what the band had in store for fans, and the album was polarizing.

The concept album, based around a futuristic casino in the sky, had shades of David Bowie & Elton John, and it operated at a very consistent, pensive, low-key illusion of grandiosity. Turner himself said that the album is a nod to the idea of a futuristic casino in space, and make of that statement what you will. A futuristic casino could mean a range of things, from holographic slot machines, or a casino that revolves around the Earth. Alternatively, it might be more set in reality, with the real future of casinos negating the need for any physical cash, similar to the online casinos that operate so successfully in today’s market.

Online casinos won’t be what Turner had in mind. Still, a casino concept album is interesting, considering how some of the most successful songs and bands of all time have multiple songs that reference casinos or casino gaming. While Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino might be revolving around the Earth 100 years from, today’s booming market revolves around a digital platform and is very efficient. If you’re playing a live dealer casino game online, there’s a lot that these platforms can offer you over a land-based casino. In today’s market, it is clear why so many gamblers are switching from physical casinos to digital ones, given their convenience and cost-effectiveness.

While Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino may have ended up on many “year’s best” lists, retrospectively, it seems like the gigantic name and quality of the Arctic Monkeys helped carry the water for this relatively flat and uninspiring record. It was highly divisive and split the Arctic Monkeys’ fanbase between Gen Z and Millennials. While Millennials know that the boozy, mid-noughties, NME, skinny jeans version of the Sheffield legends is understandably an image of the distant past and a relic of a time that has long gone, it is still a period that millions of their fans hold exceptionally close to their heart.

From a musical perspective, the argument stands that Tranquility and their most recent release, The Car, are too much of a deviation from the sound that landed them so many fans in the first place. As with many legendary rock bands, the crowd often lights up at the idea of the old songs and shrugs their shoulders at new ones; even some of the biggest names in music, such as Ringo Starr, often bookmark their setlists with singalong classics from decades ago to keep the crowd engaged.

Unfortunately, these lethargic new tracks that Turner has churned out in the last two albums fall into that category, and Tranquility was the start of a strange period where his accent seems to be channeling Elvis Presley moreso than the Sheffield lad who changed the world all those years ago, and the flat tracklist of this album exemplifies that.

Many top publications were quite scathing in their criticcism of the album, and any retrospective review doesn’t harbor a sharp U-turn. The lyrics are hardly the poignant social commentary, and the cumbersome and misdirected concept is significantly off the mark. This isn’t to drag him down; he has been the finest English songwriter for twenty years. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino has a strong following, particularly among younger fans.

Ultimately, music is subjective, and Tranquility Base is a polarizing record that still divides fans and causes fierce debate, even five years later. Some tracks stand out as highlights for everybody, Four Out Of Five, the lead single on the album, is generally considered the strongest song, and it still sounds fresh, well-produced, and lyrically sharp. We all know that the Arctic Monkeys have songs that British music fans will listen to in 100 years, but how many will be off this album? We don’t imagine any.


25 Aug ’23
The Armory
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26 Aug ’23
The Armory
Minneapolis, MN, USA

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United Center
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01 Oct ’23
The Kia Forum
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Foro Sol
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