The Strokes – The New Abnormal: Beguiling, intriguing and strangely pertinent
We all know the story of The Strokes: the New York five-piece single-handedly revamped guitar music at the start of the millennium and nearly ruined their career with a dud third album. We don’t really need to recap any more than that – aside from saying that Fabrizio Moretti was, and still is, the most beautiful drummer in rock. The New Abnormal is the band’s sixth album and their first full-length release in seven years. It’s been produced by Rick Rubin, who is known for bringing out the essence of an artist, and the production is slick and interesting.
The title of the record is eerily prescient and we find the ensemble in an introspective mood. Frontman Julian Casablancas’s vocal delivery is as insouciant as ever: a voice that is a genre in itself, instantly recognisable. The album is infused with a certain wistful melancholy that feels apposite for these strange times.
Opener The Adults Are Talking has a quintessential Strokes riff and a beguiling, deep vocal line that draws you in (lyrics about “climbing up the walls” seem particularly fitting these days) and the guitars are satisfying and varied. It’s like the group’s earlier work has been daytime drinking and at the anxiety pills, with its slowed down, nostalgic feel. Latest single Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus has dayglo driving synths and a catchy chorus. Bad Decisions repurposes Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself (with credits) but it adds nothing extra to the original and feels repetitive.
The entire album pays homage to 80s New York, referencing Blondie and Talking Heads and using Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1981 work Bird on Money as the cover art.
Highlight Eternal Summer hears Casablancas ranging from falsetto to raw hoarseness. Some of the songs feel a little too meandering and could have done with punchier tunes, but while there is not as much inventiveness as there are influences, it’s a beguiling, intriguing listen.
Photo: Jason McDonald
The New Abnormal is released on 10th April 2020. For further information or to order the album visit The Strokes’ website here.
Listen to Brooklyn Bridge Chorus here: