FEATURE: No Teasers, Please: Why Arctic Monkeys’ Plan for Their New Album Is a Stunning Move



No Teasers, Please


 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

Why Arctic Monkeys’ Plan for Their New Album Is a Stunning Move


THEY tease and tempt us with their alluring promise…



and bounteous, luscious potential. We are all eager to rip into Arctic Monkeys’ new album, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. The record is out on 11th May and is the Sheffield band’s sixth album. The group exploded onto the scene back in 2006 and, since then, have established themselves as one of the most essential and intelligent acts we have ever produced. There was a lot of speculation as to who the band were back on their debut – a bit unknown and, on their 2006, we asked Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? What usually happens after a five-year gap – they released AM in 2013 – is the record label hurries around and gets all their plans together. We normally have a little teaser video and that announcement of an album. Then, after that, comes the first single that is played to death on the radio. When we have all been exposed to that song, a few weeks later, there are plans to unveil the second single. We might hear four or five songs from an album before the actual thing is out! It is understandable a record label would want an album promoted as much as possible and to get it ahead of the competition. Most of us are used to the process and it is the way things are done nowadays. I get a bit bored of that cycle because, after you have digested those songs, you are either sick of that album or tired of the artist.

When you do get the album; you know those set of songs well and the other half (of the album) is new. It can seem rather disjointed and two-tone when you have these well-played and worn songs alongside the foreign cuts. Maybe you skip those singles you have heard and investigate something new. In any case; one is always a little bored about the endless build-up and circus around an album. In the case of Arctic Monkeys; the circumstances around Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino are unique. The band have come back after that five-year pause and they are releasing one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Their plan is to keep all the material private until 11th May – that is when you can experience an album in its entirety. This is a bold move for the band – one that DIY, having already reviewed the album, explained... – that will get some raised eyebrows:

To cut to the obvious chase, the quartet’s long-awaited sixth is like nothing they’ve done before. An Alex Turner solo record by any other name, its 11 tracks run largely on the singer’s affected croon and a newly-discovered love of the piano. Rarely do guitars make a pronounced appearance, save for the ominous notes that open ‘Golden Trunks’ and a few slinking bass lines on ‘She Looks Like Fun’ and ‘Four Out Of Five’. What powerhouse drummer Matt Helders is going to busy himself with during live shows, meanwhile, is anyone’s guess…


 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images   

An album that only even begins to click after about the tenth listen, Arctic Monkeys’ sixth is the kind of eyebrow-raising curveball that could still yet lead to brilliance. Every maverick has to risk it all in pursuit of the new at some point. But there’s still something a little sad about having to try so hard to fall in love with a record from a band who’ve always made devotion so easy. Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys? It seems only time will tell”.

It seems the new arrival from Arctic Monkeys is not what anyone expected. More an Alex Turner solo album or strange concept record – the full review shed more light – it seems like one of those albums that will get retrospective acclaim and understanding. Maybe that is what the five years have been about: brewing something that departs from the predictable path we expect and takes the band in a new direction. This is not the only time a big-name act has unveiled an album without a single coming from it – or dropped it straight out of the blue. Radiohead, in 2007, did it with In Rainbows; Beyoncé released her fifth solo album in 2013 without much knowledge; Kendrick Lamar’s untitled.unmastered arrived in 2016 and took us all off-guard. Labels love the build-up and normal procedure because it is all meticulous and allows them to test the water and see what reception the album will be afforded.



I guess smaller artists do not have the cachet to do a surprise release and subvert the desires of labels and the public. In a way, Arctic Monkeys have created more excitement and fever with their new album. Even though the first review – the one I can find – is a three-star thing (the writer unsure whether Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is a masterstroke or a confused work); that might be the story of 2018. All the artists who promised big, scene-shattering albums (including Jack White) have sort of come short and not really fulfilled their promise. Every artist reaches a stage where they change things up and go in a new direction. It would have been easy for Arctic Monkeys to release the long-awaited single and the Internet to jump on it. Given the fact their latest album is a concept and a bit of a left-turn; there might have been criticism and the songs might seem unusual and under-nourished out of the context of the album. It seems like all the songs need to be heard together: Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is an experience and cinematic piece, it seems. A director would not release five-minute sections of a film before it comes on release. They put out trailers but you do not portion out a film before it goes into the cinemas. Music is unusual in the way it is released and promoted.


IN THIS IMAGE: The album cover for Arctic Monkeys' AM/IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images 

Arctic Monkeys have had people breathing down their necks and been keeping us guessing for a while now. 2018 is there year and, because of that, they had the choice of whether to do a standard release – all the singles and interviews – or put an album out there and let people enjoy it. Their decision takes my mind back when I was a child and experiencing music. Sure; there may have been a single or two floating around but it was not unusual for a big act to release an album without any singles coming out. They wanted the public to enjoy the entire thing and, in essence, buy the record! People could listen to an L.P. in its entirety and get a much better picture of its sounds and themes – without the subjective and misleading influence of drip-feeding and slow-build. Maybe it is a generational thing: many younger listeners like getting songs before an album’s out and getting to witness this event and process. It depends on tastes, I guess, but I am more bonded and committed to a record if I have to wait and witness the music as a single thing. One of the reasons I was a bit disheartened listening to Jack White’s Boarding House Reach was I heard several of the songs at different stages. I then god the album and was listening to these familiar tracks alongside new ones.



I had, in essence, heard the best from the record and was hearing music that didn’t really match what was already out. There is no guarantee my perception of the album would have been different had there been no singles from it. Arctic Monkeys have Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino out and, forgive them, they do not want to give too much away. I feel other bands and artists should take a bold approach like this. It is always risky doing this kind of thing if you do not have a salivating fanbase and that commercial profit. Arctic Monkeys, back on their 2006 debut, were already known and people had heard their music. They did not embark on the streaming flow – sites like YouTube were brand-new then – and would not have been able to ignore the promotional process if they were new in 2018. I would, mind, like to see more artists stepping away from the routine and ever-lasting routine of releasing songs one-by-one and, by the time the album comes out; we have heard half the album and it is all rather staid. Regardless of how critics receive Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino on 11th May – it looks like it could be that classic three-star record – it has been worth the wait and patience. People do not know what to expect and, for the first time in years; we are actually looking at reviews and learning about an album’s content in traditional ways. It is a shame the hard copy of NME is no longer around: a write-up about Arctic Monkeys would have been a perfect reason to buy the magazine and digest the review. Let us embrace artists who want to defy the normal and take music back to its basic brilliance. I am looking forward to Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino and am interested to see how Arctic Monkeys have evolved: going from tundra-walking primates to a spacey, casino-based bunch of blokes. Maybe it will balkanised and divide the fans but, in true Arctic Monkeys style, their new album will be anything…


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

BUT boring!