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Singgah di Dimensi Baru Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Apakah ini Arctic Monkeys?

Sepertinya itu pertanyaan banyak orang ketika mendengar album ini. Saya sempat iseng membuat meme dengan pola yang sedang ramai ini.

Album ini memang terasa jauh berbeda dengan album-album Arctic Monkeys sebelumnya. Tapi entah kenapa sejauh ini saya masih betah dengan nuansa yang dihadirkannya. Tentu tidak semua lagu saya suka. Tapi, album ini dikonsep dengan sangat menarik. Mungkin suasana hidup saya akhir-akhir ini yang merasa cocok dengan nuansa keterasingan yang cukup kental di album ini. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino banyak dikatakan bernuansa science fiction, lounge-pop, dan sedikit jazz. Tranquility Base merupakan situs di Bulan yang merupakan tempat pilihan pendaratan Apollo 11 di tahun 1969. Arctic Monkeys seakan mengajak kita ke salah satu masa depan yang mungkin terjadi dalam waktu dekat. Di masa depan itu Arctic Monkeys seakan menjadi grup musik pemanis di hotel masa depan tempat transit eksodus manusia ke luar bumi. Mereka mungkin sedang mencoba menghibur para tamu yang menunggu resepsionis atau salesperson di lounge Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Menghibur dengan alunan yang terasa gamang merenungi masa kini dan masa depan.

Dari cuplikan pendek itu itu saya sudah mulai tertarik. Kemudian diikuti artwork unik yang didesain Alex Turner sendiri. Dalam wawancara dengan billboard dia berbagi sedikit cerita tentang heksagon yang cukup melambangkan album ke enam Arctic Monkeys dan dua bulan kemudian dia membuat semacam maket gedung yang berputar di atas mesin perekam/pemutar suara merk Revox.

“I liked this idea of a six-sided shape, because it was the sixth record,” he relates. “I drew a hexagon, I thought that was a kind of dumb idea, and then two months later I made this spinning thing on top of a Revox tape machine. In between that, there are a lot of things that aren’t the artwork and I made a real mess. But it all makes sense to me now. In the past I’ve definitely had record covers that don’t, to me, represent what’s on the wax, and I certainly don’t feel that way about this one. By the end of it, I think I’d forgotten there even was a record. I’d just gotten obsessed with cardboard.”

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino artwork

Lagu favorit saya sejauh ini adalah One Point Perspective. Permainan piano, bass, dan solo gitar begitu asyik di lagu ini. Di lagu ini, mungkin ada sedikit nuansa kepasrahan dalam usaha mewujudkan impian.

I fantasize I call it quits
I swim with the economists
And I get to the bottom of it for good
By the time reality hits
The chimes of freedom fell to bits

The shining city on the fritz

Golden Trunks juga menarik. Terasa seperti balada lawas. Beberapa cuitan bahkan menyebut ada nuansa Soneta Band Bang Rhoma di lagu itu. Lagu ini menyiratkan suasana politik yang mencengangkan saat pemimpin dunia mengingatkan kita akan pegulat dengan celana ketat berwarna emas yang mungkin norak.

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.

Menarik mengetahui komentar Alex Turner tentang lagu ini dalam wawancara dengan Pitchfork.

That song is definitely centered around a female character, and it’s the closest thing to a love song that’s on this record. I made this character, and she had this idea about what was going on. The line came to me through that; I thought of the WWF.

Saya lama-kelamaan pun menyukai bagian chorus akhir yang melodis.

So in response to what you whispered in my ear…
I’ll be upfront… Sometimes I fantasize about you too.

Alex Turner memang dikenal jagonya melagukan lirik-lirik yang tak terduga. Di album ini mungkin The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip. Lagu yang mungkin menggambarkan suasana modern akhir-akhir ini.

First thing in the morning
You push the button and we’ll do the rest

Di lagu The Ultracheese, ada sedikit rasa lelah untuk selalu tetap berkecimpung di kehidupan sosial, bahkan dengan orang-orang yang dulu dianggap teman. Mungkin banyak juga yang merasa “Still got pictures of friends on the wall” semacam gambaran kita dengan akun Facebook kita.

Get freaked out from a knock at the door
When I haven’t been expecting one
Didn’t that used to be part of the fun, once upon a time?

Balada The Ultracheese menyajikan vokal menenangkan Alex Turner yang serasa mengiringi post-credit scene film fiksi ilmiah dengan akhir menggantung.

Album ini memang memiliki nuansa yang terikat secara keseluruhan. Setelah The Ultracheese, tetap terasa tertarik kembali ke Star Treatment yang nampaknya menggambarkan kegelisahan Alex Turner selama ini.

I just wanted to be one of The Strokes
Now look at the mess you made me make

Alex Turner menyampaikan ke Pitchfork:

When I wrote that line, I imagined I would return to it, and it wouldn’t end up on the record. But when I circled back around to it I felt like it was right where it ought to be because of how it makes me think, “Shit. The last 12 years just flashed by.” There’s an honesty and a truth to it. The style of me writing has developed considerably since the first record, but the bluntness of that line — and perhaps some other lyrics on this album — reminds me of the way I wrote in the beginning.

Poin menarik lainnya (dan juga menjadi referensi tambahan saya) adalah pemilihan The Information Action Ratio sebagai nama taqueria (resto a la Meksiko) di Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino di lagu Four Out Of Five. Information Action Ratio merupakan konsep yang dibahas oleh Neil Postman di bukunya yang berjudul Amusing Ourselves to Death. Konsep bahwa informasi bisa jadi tidak ada gunanya suatu hari nanti, masih relevan dengan era banjir informasi saat ini yang malah membuat banyak dari kita kewalahan. Buku yang memancing untuk dibaca. (Semoga bisa menyelesaikan Brave New World dahulu karena buku Neil Postman ini bersinggungan dengan Brave New World karya Aldous Huxley dan 1984 karye George Orwell.)

Neil Postman menyampaikan:

“The tie between information and action has been severed. Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one’s status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don’t know what to do with it.”

Alex Turner menyebutkan dalam wawancara dengan Pitchfork:

Yeah. I lifted it from this book called Amusing Ourselves to Death. I was attracted to the idea as soon as I heard that phrase; even though it was in this book from [1985] it still seemed relevant — more relevant than it probably was when the guy made it up. I sang it into the tape recorder when I was making stuff up one day, and it ended up falling in a place where the implication was it was the name of this taco shop on the roof of this hotel complex.

Four Out Of Five yang juga bernuansa psikadelik sepertinya dipilih Arctic Monkeys menjadi lagu andalan awal. Mereka sudah membawakan lagu ini di acara Jimmy Fallon disusul dengan dirilisnya video klip resmi.

All the nights that never happened and the days that don’t exist
At the information action ratio
The only time that we stop laughing is to breathe or steal a kiss
I can get you on the list for all the clubs

Terima kasih Arctic Monkeys untuk pengalaman yang memang layak diberi nilai empat dari lima bintang melalui Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Album yang menarik dan nampaknya bisa menemani beberapa pekan ke depan.

Referensi wawancara terkini Arctic Monkeys:

billboard

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

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