Arctic Monkeys’ new track is the last dregs of space margarita from the ‘Tranquility Base’ bar

'Anyways' is the b-side to new 7" 'Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino'

The YouTube link of Arctic Monkeys’ new B-side (‘member B-sides?) comes with a single picture of Alex Turner, in full Saturday Night Fever white suit, hoovering a retro dancehall. The implication is that ‘Anyways’ is the after-the-afterparty song at the end of cabaret night at the Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino cocktail lounge, and it sounds like it. A torpid slow-dance that has you imagining Turner singing to one shuffling couple bathed in the light of a moondust mirrorball, it’s a fittingly lethargic swansong for the ‘Tranquility Base…’ concept. The last popped anti-gravity balloon, the last drained dregs of space margarita.

Lyrically, Turner is gazing out at the Earth orbiting above him and mourning humanity’s ability to focus long enough on our problems to deal with them. He hints at Brexit (“how’s your mum and dad been doing with the generation gap?”), social media (“oversharing and its bitter aftertaste”) and climate change (“Metropolis ablaze in the rearview/Devising methods to both have and eat your cake/Mmm, just like Mother Nature used to bake”), but they’re all just topics of innocuous passing conversation – or, as he puts it, “just another race to ‘anyways’”. It’s an intriguing conceit; where so many contemporary pop records flail around in the modern world, struggling to make sense of nonsensical times, the distance Turner gives his latest alter ego – about 240,000 miles in fact – grants him a broader vista, an overseers’ authority.

Ironically, the song itself is something of a tack-on, undoubtedly the sound of the Monkeys’ lunar lounge band schtick reaching the end of its course. ‘Tranquility Base…’ was a classic exercise in hermetically sealed concept music, a record set within its own pressurised space bubble, set apart not just from the Monkeys previous albums but all of modern music. The most fascinating thing about it isn’t the record itself, but what sort of band they’ll be when they crash land back on Earth. So anyways, what next?