You could never accuse me of being an Arctic Monkeys fan. Their debut was all guts and no substance. Their second album barely existed. Humbug was mediocre. In fact, I strongly believe that Suck It And See was their first great record, and a giant leap forward. AM was of course an artistic triumph that should in no way make you forget such crimes against humanity as teaming up with Miles Kane, butchering "Totally Wired", and - oh well - the Last Shadow Puppets have generally bored me to tears.
Which is why I find myself in this bizarre position of defending Arctic Monkeys and their latest LP, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The album, not yet released but already panned by humourless people with short attention spans, is rapidly turning into their take on Everything Now. By which I mean a good album suffering from hilarious overreaction.
Truly, this is an interesting time to be alive. People raised on songs trying to criticise an artist for making an album. Because Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is an album, from "Star Treatment" to "The Ultracheese" and all the way down to the fact that they chose not to release any singles (indeed; "American Sports" is fantastic, but would it work as a 3-minute video on YouTube?). It's a fucking album. It's fine that it takes a few listens to sink in and make sense, and there is certainly nothing wrong with a song revealing itself with each new listen or a song that suddenly has a vocal hook where there used to be none. That's what albums are about, they meander in the best way possible.
There are two paths for a band whose previous album was considered the greatest achievement since Revolver (not my words). You either go tasteless and release the same thing all over again but with different song titles or you retain your good taste and record a left-field album that will be doomed to violent reactions from people who spend too much time indoors. God knows I'm glad Arctic Monkeys chose the latter option, and released an album this mellow, and this bold.