11 May 2018 (released)
12 May 2018
Towards the end of Science Fiction, Alex Turner describes trying to write a song "to make you blush" but fearing it might end up being "too clever for its own good". There in those closing lines to one of the album's better moments, Turner may have summed up the problem with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. There will be musos that admire its hidden depths that on repeated listening reveal themselves, just like those 'great' works of art we all look at with incredulity. The album could not have moved further from the chorus and tune heavy AM. There's hardly a singalong moment here and the backing vocals that made AM such a dream are all but banished.
Teaser track Four Out of Five starts with what must have been the only remains of AM left for the band to work on. It's raunchy opening guitar and drum prepare us for "hokey cokey with the opposite sex" and it forms the centre piece of the eleven tracks. But it's as far away from the rest of the album as Turner's drawling croon is now from his Sheffield routes. When Humbug's production seemingly squeezed the energy out of the band's early fire, this sixth album has seen the tunes replaced with meandering ramblings.
There's very little to distinguish American Sports from The World's First Ever Monster Truck Flip (a terrible song title) and One Point Perspective; all three tracks come and go with very little impact. The saving grace are the cheeky Batphone and the dreamy The Ultracheese that closes the album. The latter is by far the best song here and has some of the album's best lyrics too as Turner talks of writing a song "from start to finish, with you looking on". Is it a reflection of a love lost or something else? For many fans it could be reflections of that spark that the band has lost.
That's not to say that this is a bad album. Far from it. But it's more of a vehicle for Turner than anything they've produced as a collective before. But sadly it's less Last Shadow Puppets and more lost shadow. It will be interesting to see what fans make of their sold out stadium shows with these songs added to the set list. The toilets and bars could be busy at those points.