May's Alternative Record of the Month - Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino (Ltd. Ed. clear-colored vinyl, 180g)
In January 2006, Arctic Monkeys' first album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not sold more than 360,000 copies in the U.K. its first week of release, becoming the biggest debut in U.K. rock history. On the strength of singles like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down", young Alex Turner and company introduced the world to a new wave of danceable punk and radio-format rock to the masses.
The band formed in high school in Sheffield, England, around 2002. In 2003, they recorded a handful of demos and began personally distributing CD's to their fans. Between the raw talent of frontman and lead guitarist Alex Turner and fellow bandmates Jamie Cook (guitar), Nick O'Malley (bass), and Matt Helders (drums), Arctic Monkeys built a slow and steady following that saw them receiving offers from major labels and selling out the London Astoria by 2005. Domino Records signed the band later that year and released their debut album.
Whatever People Say I Am... went on to win the 2006 Mercury Prize, and the gents snagged Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards, as well as, the NME Award for Best New Band. It topped both the U.K. Albums and U.K. Independent Albums charts. Released in the U.S. a month after the U.K. drop, the record sold 34,000 units in its first week, landing at the #24 spot on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and #1 on Independent Albums.
Their next album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, bolstered a bigger sound that, due to an iTunes error, saw all 12 tracks appear on the Top 200 U.K. Singles chart. Released on April 23, 2007, the record sold 85,000 copies in the first day and went on to win the band two more Brit Awards and a second Mercury Prize nomination. Again, the album appeared at #1 on the U.K. Albums chart, receiving rave reviews around the globe. Nightmare was anchored by the singles "Brianstorm" and my personal favorite Arctic Monkeys' track, "Fluorescent Adolescent." The album has since gone double platinum in the U.K.
The following years saw the Arctic Monkeys release three more albums: Humbug (2009), Suck It and See (2011), and AM (2013), all receiving high critical praise. The band announced a hiatus in 2014 and wouldn't release any new music until this year's most excellent Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino.
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is quite a departure from classic Arctic Monkeys, using more sophisticated arrangements and softening their traditional sound considerably. Turner wrote the songs on a piano in his LA home, adding cleverly-crafted lyrics that cause the listener to really dig in to find the meaning behind the words. While it's not vintage Arctic Monkeys, this record is a welcome return from Turner and company.
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is our Rock Record of the Month for June! We chose this quirky new offering from the band because of the stark contrast between previous albums and the updated sound. Also, it's Limited Edition clear-colored 180g vinyl! Pick it up and let us know what you think.
- Rudy Newman, B.T.R.C.
What critics are saying about Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino...
Perhaps the great mystery of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is not its knotty themes or cryptic lyrics but what’s motivating Turner. With the keys to the most lucrative and well-oiled indie-rock band around, he’s regenerated Arctic Monkeys in service of a delirious and artful satire directed at the foundations of modern society.
Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork - "Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino Album Review"