After a five-year hiatus, the Arctic Monkeys have returned with their sixth album, Tranquility Hotel Base + Casino, on Friday (May 11). The record is the British band’s strangest one yet, as they leave the California deserts from their previous AM album and transport into a sonic space-time continuum. Throughout the band’s career, lead singer Alex Turner has been known to channel his inner-Shakespeare and flood the listener’s ears with poetic and witty lyrics. But Tranquility Hotel Base + Casino finds his pen drifting off to a realm that is more bizarre than ever.
The album tells a foggy story based on science fiction that is part Blade Runner dystopia, part ’70s space odyssey and part Turner’s slightly presumptuous but artistic mind-set. Check out the 10 most obscure lyrics, along with some attempted (and cheeky) translation, below.
“I just wanted to be one of The Strokes
Now look at the mess you made me make”
Talk about a punchy opening line! The Arctic Monkeys (who some may brand as the British version of The Strokes) are fans of the New York City band, but Alex Turner seems to be in his feelings about not being good enough on this song.
“My virtual reality mask is stuck on ‘Parliament Brawl’
Emergency battery pack, just in time for my weekly chat
With God on video call”
There are a few political references splattered throughout the album, and this one highlights the sometimes violent nature of legislative leaders. Also, is this one of the first times that Turner has mentioned religion?
“Tranquility Hotel Base + Casino”
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
Please, tell me, how may I direct your call?”
So…who the heck is Mark? Could it be the Facebook CEO, to align with the album’s societal themes? Or maybe it’s the ghost of Mark Twain assisting at the front desk…
“The leader of the free world
Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks
He’s got himself a theme tune
They play it for him as he makes his way to the ring”
Even our friends across the pond recognize Donald Trump’s cartoonish presidential display. This correlation between wrestling and Trump’s rambunctious campaign run is spot on.
“Four Out of Five”
“Mr. Bridge and Tunnel on the starlight express
The head of special effects in my mind’s eye
Hokey Cokey with the opposite sex
The things you try to forget, doesn’t time fly?”
Turner’s lyrics can take a while to be decoded, but this one completely stumped me. It may be a reference to mind-numbing transition from Earth to the hotel in space, which is accompanied by some playful coitus.
“The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip”
“You and Genie wearing Stetson hats
Trying to gain access to my lily pad”
We’re not even going to get into this wacky song title (which Turner based on a real-life news event). But the mention of lily pads could either be very naughty…or maybe the singer doesn’t like to share his floating pool devices.
“Reflections in the silver screen of strange societies
Swamp monster with a hard-on for connectivity
The ascension of the C.R.E.A.M
Mass panic on a not too distant future colony”
This lyric is obviously Turner going off on a tangent about the success of the 1982 classic Swamp Thing (probably not), with a nod to Wu-Tang Clan’s signature hit thrown in for good monetary measure.
“She Looks Like Fun”
“(She looks like fun) Good morning
(She looks like fun) Cheeseburger
(She looks like fun) Snowboarding”
“She Looks Like Fun” finds Turner shouting out random adjectives and nouns. Most of them (like the cheeseburger) can be found on alleged girlfriend Taylor Bagley’s Instagram.
“I’ll be by the Batphone if you need to get a hold
Making a selection, opening credits roll
Killer Pink Flamingos, computer controlled
Panoramic windows looking out across your soul”
It seems like the only way to maintain a genuine connection with someone at the Tranquility Hotel Base and Casino is through technology: virtual reality headsets, computers, handheld devices, etc. Turner’s choice of communication is a Batphone, one of the most important items in Bruce Wayne’s arsenal. As for those Killer Pink Flamingos? It may just be a movie title that Turner made up for the hell of it.
“Everybody’s on a barge
Floating down the endless stream of great TV
“You can’t help but get on the barge every now and again, but I like to keep an eye on it,” Turner told Pitchfork about the line. But what could a mysterious guy like him be binge-watching? Who knows, maybe he’s suffering over the loss of Brooklyn Nine-Nine like the rest of us. And of course the years 1984 (a reference to George Orwell’s classic novel) and 2019 maintain the album’s dystopian theme.