'It is shaping up to be one of the biggest albums this year': Retailers pin hopes on Arctic Monkeys comeback

'It is shaping up to be one of the biggest albums this year': Retailers pin hopes on Arctic Monkeys comeback

Music retailers have told Music Week they are “super excited” about the return of Arctic Monkeys today (May 11) with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

While the band’s sixth album may flummox some fans with Alex Turner’s futuristic concept and piano-based songs, retailers are anticipating brisk business in the first week of release. Sony/ATV’s Guy Moot has described the comeback as a big event for the UK music industry.

Domino will release the record to streaming platforms, though physical sales are still expected to be robust. The label’s decision not to issue a lead single or any music in advance should create intense curiosity in the first week. 

“It’s an interesting way of doing it,” said HMV music manager John Hirst. “It’s quite an interesting way of getting people to think about it as an album, perhaps, rather than a collection of songs.”

“We are super excited - it is one of those rare records that everyone will sell tons of,” Rough Trade’s Nigel House told Music Week. “For us the vinyl will outsell CD by about five to one, I guess, but we will still sell a lot on CD. It is shaping up to be one of the biggest albums this year in every way.”

“A six-figure week one sale is surely in prospect,” added Sainsbury’s music buyer Andy Healing. Hirst agreed that it should “easily” pass 100,000 sales in the first seven days.

According to the Official Charts Company, 2013 album AM has sales to date of 1,090,377, of which 528,107 were physical. However, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’s absence of indie rock anthems may mean that it struggles to manage those kind of numbers in the long-term. Early reviews have been mixed, with Rolling Stone awarding the album just two stars and describing it as a "stylistic change up that doesn't quite work".

Nevertheless, the packaging and concept will make the vinyl release particularly appealing for fans - the band have also launched their own pop-up shop in their home town of Sheffield.

It all bodes quite well because it feels like they’re bigger than they’ve ever been

John Hirst, HMV

Sainsbury’s will be supporting the vinyl LP in 375 stores, along with the CD in 1,000 outlets.

"AM was a phenomenon,” said Healing. “For a band to return to market on their fifth album and sell three times its predecessor was an incredible performance – and you don't get to those elevated levels without selling handsomely through all outlets. Hopes are thus high for the new one. It's all systems go." 

Hirst said Domino have been “very supportive” for HMV’s release plan for the record. The music retailer offered a lyric book for pre-orders.

While there has been no new music to gauge the audience’s reaction to the band’s return after five years, ticket sales for their arena tour have been strong.

“It all bodes quite well because it feels like they’re bigger than they’ve ever been - I think the tour [ticket] sales bear that out as well,” said Hirst.

HMV is also hopeful of the long-term prospects for Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino throughout the year.

“I would expect it to be up there for Christmas, particularly for us – we tend to outperform the market on albums like this,” said Hirst. “I will be very surprised if it’s not in our top 10 at Christmas.”

To read Music Week’s Big Story on the Arctic Monkeys’ comeback, subscribers can click here.

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