It's Pretty OK
Solving the paradoxes of our time since 2016

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A Pretty OK Song: "One Point Perspective" - Arctic Monkeys

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It's my freshman year of high school. I'm a newly-minted 14-year-old, and to say that I'm into music is the understatement of the year. The "little" mp3 player bulging out of my pocket is one of my most prized possessions, and I'm even planning to go to music school to study jazz saxophone. But first, my aunt Elaine has brought presents from England.

In the blink of an eye, I tear through the wrapping paper and find my hands full of CDs. Maroon 5's Songs About Jane. The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager, by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Snow Patrol's Eyes Open. And at the bottom of the stack, the debut album of a band from Sheffield called the Arctic Monkeys. I give my aunt a hug and bolt away like Gollum to enjoy my precious new gifts.

It's hard to explain the impact of those albums on me. I grew to love each of those bands, but over time, things changed. Some of the bands faded away (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.), while others achieved worldwide fame and changed their sound in a way I didn't like (Maroon 5). I don't listen to Maroon 5 or Snow Patrol often anymore; those albums are more of a nostalgia trip for me. But since I was 14, there's been one constant.

To this day, I still love Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, and I love the Arctic Monkeys. I always have and I always will. That album soundtracks so many moments in my life. Looking to conquer a tough climb? "From the Ritz to the Rubble" is what you need. Taking a late-night drive? Look no further than "Riot Van." And it doesn't stop with their debut album. I love it all. So you'd think I would know when they have a new album coming out, right?

Oops.

I went into work this weekend and found out, to my surprise, that the Monkeys' sixth album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, was already out. Needless to say, I listened to the album the instant I got home. I have stopped since, but only for the occasional food and sleep break.

The album showcases a different side of the Arctic Monkeys than we're used to hearing. I'm not sure what decade this music belongs in, but I can't help but feel like I'm hearing it in a hotel lounge. The lights are low, the martinis are strong, and the singer seems faintly familiar, but from where, I can't tell.

That said, though the sound is different, it's also unmistakably the Monkeys. Alex Turner's voice is as poignant as ever, his lyrics are spot on, and though Hotel is tinged with jazz and soul, it still has the heart of a rock album. The band could keep changing its sound forever, and as long as they held onto those three things, I'd continue to love them.

I won't lie; hearing a band's new sound is always a scary moment. So many famous musicians have changed their style, only to produce their worst (or at least worst-received) album. Someone told me that the band had taken "a turn for the worse" and called Hotel a "psychedelic" record, so I was a bit spooked. But the more I've listened, the more I've loved the album.

"One Point Perspective" has a particular hold on me. It bridges the gap between "old Monkeys" and "new Monkeys" well. Like their previous slow songs, the focus is on Turner's voice and lyrics rather than the instrumentation. And despite the jazz/soul feel, there are still some traditional rock elements (check out the short guitar solo).

That, I think, is what's most important to me: The sound has changed, but the fundamentals are still intact. Whether they're playing greasy punk rock or suave lounge music, the Arctic Monkeys are still the band that blew me away back in 2006.

Back then, I was given a unique opportunity to catch all the up-and-coming artists the UK had to offer. Only one still amazes me in 2018. Whether you've been a Monkeys fan since the beginning or came to the band through 2013's AM, you should give Hotel a listen.

Until next week!

-Ian Wood