So far this week, we’ve covered American rock bands The Shins and Vampire Weekend, and Canadian indie-pop ‘supergroup’ The New Pornographers. To finish up the holy trinity of mostly-white/western dudes playing guitars, next up is the UK.
As we wrap up our week of indie rock, we come to another of my favorite bands, The Arctic Monkeys, who released today’s song on their album “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” in 2018. As far as albums that were released last year, this has to be one of my favorites. At least in terms of my most-played playlists, according to Spotify.
The entire album of “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is wrapped, much like a burrito, in layers. Except instead of beans, cheese, and rice, the Arctic Monkeys wrap the genres of lounge music, glam rock, and psychedelic pop around their songs. But the effect is much the same: delicious and filling.
One Point Perspective
“One Point Perspective” is the second track on “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”. It’s a song that somehow manages to be both catchy and interesting without having a chorus, which was a conscious choice by the songwriters.
The title of this track calls to mind the worlds of art and film, where one-point perspective is used. If you’ve ever seen a Wes Anderson film, you should already be familiar with this technique. Same goes for “2001: A Space Odyssey”, which is where Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys got a lot of his inspiration for the album. One-point perspective is a framing technique in film making that forces the attention of the viewer on a single point (makes sense, right?). In these frames, all of the lines seem to converge on a single subject. Likewise, I think Turner uses the title to draw our attention to a single subject.
While some of the lines in “One Point Perspective” may appear to be drawing your attention away, they are actually making poignant observations about the state of our society. Let’s start with the first verse. The first three lines are, “Dancing in my underpants / I’m gonna run for government / I’m gonna form a covers band anorl (stop)”. Immediately we start with a direct reference to the immaturity of America’s political climate.
Throughout the song, Turner drops in non-sequitur’s like “Bear with me, man, I lost my train of thought”. I believe even lines like this one are still drawing our attention to one subject. And that subject, I believe, is a state of consciousness brought about by a myriad of factors in our lives. One of those, as we’ve seen, is the political climate. Another is how easily we can be distracted these days. And how hard it can be to pay attention to one thing long enough to really understand it.
The bridge section also makes a reference to how polarized and crazy our country has become.
“Oh, just as the apocalypse finally gets prioritised / And you cry some of the hottest tears you ever cried / Multiplied by five / I suppose a singer must die”.
Here, Turner is addressing the darkest of times, as well as a pessimistic future. The most interesting line here, in my opinion, is “I suppose a singer must die”. The line is ironic if taken from Turner’s perspective, given the success of the Arctic Monkeys. But it’s also a reference to Leonard Cohen’s song “A Singer Must Die”, which also deals with themes of government and politics.
The final verse in “One Point Perspective”, while leaving out politics, instead focuses on our methods of escape during hard times.
“Singsong ‘Round the Money Tree / This stunning documentary that no one else unfortunately saw / Such beautiful photography, it’s worth it for the opening scene / I’ve been driving ’round listening to the score / Or maybe I just imagined it all”.
The reason I like this song so much is because to me, it so accurately described my own feelings in the past two years. In the lyrics, Turner lays out the situation, while at the same time recognizing the futility of expecting to change anything with a song. It’s mature, poignant work that reveals the Arctic Monkeys at their best.