So I should’ve written this about 7 months ago, but alas life (the selfish bastard) got in the way. In May of 2018, Arctic Monkeys released their 6th studio album – Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino, which went straight in at number one, just like their previous five albums did. Fun fact: Arctic Monkeys still hold the UK record for fast selling debut album of all time from a band - I was a mere 13-year-old Essex scally wag when that album came out. My mum bought it for me as a present for scoring a hattrick one weekend for my football team. It’s safe to say it changed my life.
Earlier this week (10th February), the Grammy’s took place – and if there’s ever an indication of the global success of a British artist(s) it would surely be being nominated for this prestigious, world-renowned award? OK, the Grammy’s are becoming a bit of a vanity fair but hey, what awards show isn’t? TBH + C was nominated for the ‘Alternative Album of the Year’losing out to Beck’s ‘Colors’ – I love Beck, but this felt like the wrong award from my POV. Beck is another artist who actually incorporates (or used to) tech into his music, but that’s for another day, and I don’t want to get all Kanye West on Beck… I, obviously, thought Arctic Monkeys should’ve won, they didn’t though, and life goes on.
What I love so much about the record is its awareness and foresight of technology, and how it is affecting us now, in 2019, and how it will only become more relied-upon in the future, where the album is set.
Anyway, technology features heavily on TBH + C. As a listener, we are placed at Tranquillity Base – where Armstrong, Aldrin and the other fella landed in 1969, except now we are in the future, and the moon has been Americanised and capitalised by a hotel and casino, that inhabits some peculiar and lewd rich folk. Imagine a kind of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ meets ‘Ziggy Stardust’ meets ‘Hotel California’ amalgamation, with more than a smattering of Kubrickian imagery.
Where-oh-where is the focus on tech then, Jack? Good question. Let’s look at the eponymous song and specifically this lyric, which admittedly is why I’ve written this article: “Technological advances really bloody get me in the mood”. (See also ‘American Sports’ on the album).
So, our character, the futured-up Alex Turner, sexualises technology. We’ve seen sex robots, of course we have, but here it’s the ethereal theme that stimulates our character. He is using humour, and classic Turnerisms, to underline how sometimes technological advances can lead to almost obscene changes in society, and in the way humans interact with each other.
We can now meet our soul mates via technology, it is changing the way we fall in love and augmenting how we meet our partners. But it’s also warping our reality – I’m not afraid to get blue, so I’ll say it straight – porn is ruining people’s appetite for real sex– especially VR porn. However, Turner is not going all Joseph Gordon-Levitt in ‘Don Jon’ as just the mere mention of tech is getting him hot under the collar, but he’s not pining to masturbate over it.
It’s a strong realisation that tech is essential when we’re interacting with our new potential partners and how in the future we will rely even more on tech to be our coded cupid. Now, just the thought of engaging with the tech is turning our character on,almost in a Pavlovian sense – and this could be the case for us in the future.
Perhaps the ease and seamlessness of tech augmenting our lives is what is so attractive, too? Love is all you need, as some other Brits sang a while back. Still a lovely, if not slightly fluffy, thought. However, love isn’t easy and in today’s society we do feel more jaded, more insecure and more unloved than ever. Maybe, we’re all destined to meet our future lovers online, hey there’s nothing wrong with that now and if tech’s teaching us anything it’s that we are more reliant on it than ever. What Alex Turner does so masterfully is he plays on our absolute desire for technology and perhaps that desire is becoming to fervent… After all, we can now design and tailor a sex doll to our exact requirements…
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