The opening track of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino kicks off a reference to The Strokes' influence on the Arctic Monkey's early work, as frontman Alex Turner recalls his inner turmoil during the band's early days.
I just wanted to be one of The Strokes
Now look at the mess you made me make
Turner explained to Mojo magazine: "That was writing about writing. It was my 8½, the Fellini film - where the director can't seem to make this movie, however hard he tries. I was thinking about that. That's interesting to me. "
Turner went onto admit that he did attempt in vain to replace the Strokes line, knowing people would interpret it as one about him being a rock star. "Did The Strokes line feel too close to home? Yeah, absolutely," he said. "But you can't let that stop you. That whole thing of 'Oh my God, what they gonna think this means? You can't really work like that."
Turner admitted to Pitchfork
that he initially envisaged not including the opening lyric about the Strokes on the record.
"When I wrote that line, I imagined I would return to it, and it wouldn't end up on the record," he said. "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, 'S--. 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."
The "Here ain't no place for dolls like you and me," line dates back to around 2009. Turner said: "I even tried to get somebody else to put it in a song, but they didn't like it. Maybe I was saving it because I didn't have the follow-up."
Turner eventually came up with the follow-up lyric he'd been seeking: "Everybody's on a barge floating down the endless stream of great TV."
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino has a loose concept running through it set in a not-so-distant future, where the moon has been colonized and turned into a luxury resort.
Turner and his bandmates take up the role of titular hotel's house band during "Star Treatment." Turner said: "I also sing about the 'martini police' on this song, and there was just something about that melody with those words that amused me; I've begun to wonder if that's the right name for the band that has the residency in the night club in the song. And the melody of that bit reminds me of Toto."
Turner pokes fun at movie snobs when he sings "what do you mean you haven't seen Blade Runner?" He told NME: "I've only seen this happen a couple of times, but it goes beyond: 'What do you mean you've never seen Blade Runner?' and gets to: 'Oh my God, I envy you!'"
Arctic Monkeys played the song live for the first time during a June 7, 2018 show at London's Royal Albert Hall. The track was debuted by the quartet as they returned for a three track encore, which also featured "The View From The Afternoon" and "R U Mine?
Ask your mates but golden boy's in bad shape
Mojo asked Turner if the Golden Boy really is in a bad shape. He replied: "In the sense that I was lost and didn't really have any ideas about what I was going to do. 'Golden Boy''s a bit of a rob off that Leonard Cohen song 'Dress Rehearsal Rag' ('Where are you golden boy. Where is your famous golden touch?') I must have been playing the album (Songs of Love and Hate) and it kind of got in there."
So what did The Strokes think about being name-checked by Arctic Monkeys on this song? Speaking to NME, The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr admitted that he laughed upon discovering the reference.
"It's more fun for the people who do it! I don't live my life in that, it's something you laugh at more," he said. "Sure it's nice, but I didn't think of it – I thought of it as a way of describe the simplicity of being young."
"It's a thing you want for the simplicity of it, and then you realize it's a lot more complicated," Hammond continued. "It's what a picture looks like – and a perfect way to reference his youth. It's a cool thing and he's a great lyricist."