'A giant leap' - what critics are saying about new Arctic Monkeys album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
The reviews are in for the Arctic Monkeys' sixth album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, and on the whole critics appear rather impressed with the Sheffield band's new direction.
Alex Turner has told this is the first set of songs he's written on piano instead of guitar, and most reviewers recognise this change of approach is likely to alienate some fans.
Here's a round-up of some of the best reviews so far.
'Their very own Pet Sounds'
The music bible likened the Sheffield band to spaceman Neil Armstrong, praising the album as a 'giant leap', though it admitted the new direction was likely to prove divisive.
"Their journey has now taken them from 'chip-shop rock’n’roll', in Turner’s own words, to their very own ‘Pet Sounds’: the threads have been dangling for years, but Turner’s finally tied them together in a rather magnificent bow," wrote Thomas Smith.
'Catapulted into outer space'
The Independent also reaches for the cosmological metaphors, writing that the band have 'catapulted themselves into outer space, light years away from the Sheffield locales that inspired their first batch of tracks back in 2006'.
It welcomed the bold approach, despite finding the results were not as stratospheric as they might have been.
"Whatever your stance on the outcome, rest assured the next one will see them chart another, entirely new territory - and that should only be encouraged."
'Least rock effort to date'
Variety says that while the album is 'not going to meet anyone’s standard for saving rock and roll', being the group's 'least rock effort' to date, the 'dog-leg melodies and haunting refrains' remain and the lyrics are 'hilarious as ever'.
The tracks bear the band's unmistakable stamp, it claims, despite a change of direction which has 'taken Turner's songwriting and singing into fresh areas'.
"While a change of pace, none of these songs will sound unfamiliar to fans, or really could have been created by anyone else except a very talented parodist," writes Jem Aswad.
"Ultimately, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is just a snappy new outfit for a group that knows experimentation and diversity are keys to longevity."
'What a world they have created'
Writing in the Metro, JJ Nattrass says the album is likely to have some fans 'throwing their toys out of the pram' but describes the band's new approach as '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 it's new," he continues.
"Rather than judging it on a track-by-track basis, appreciate it as a whole – a vision, if you like," he concludes.
"A grand design… a brave new world. And what a world the Arctic Monkeys have created, but it’s certainly one that will only have room for a certain crowd."
'The last indie band standing'
Alexis Petridis notes how 'the Yorkshire dialect that was once Alex Turner's USP is now deployed sparingly, as a jolting effect' in lines like 'he’s got him sen a theme tune'.
He says the songs are 'melodically far richer and less concerned with verses and choruses' than anything from the band's back catalogue.
At their best, he says, they're 'fantastic' on tracks like 'American Sports' and 'Four Out of Five', but at their worst 'uncoupling the songs from a standard structure makes them ramble, as on Batphone'.
He concludes that the album is 'only a qualified success', which is 'evidence – albeit flawed – of a certain musical restlessness: the very thing, one suspects, that’s caused the band to travel so much further than their contemporaries that they’re virtually the last indie band standing."