Album Review // THE STROKES ‘The New Abnormal’
Lyrically profound and sonically remarkably experimental, indie pioneers The Strokes deservingly win everyone’s attention with their long-awaited sixth album, The New Abnormal.
It could take hours and hours of writing and explaining why The Strokes are an era defining band that will forever be hard to surpass. Perhaps a statement the newer generation might not truly be on board with, but that’s a debate for another day. Almost two decades since their seminal debut Is This It was released and seven years on hold since predecessor Comedown Machine, the New Yorkers effortlessly crawl back into our playlists to prove yet once again why they are indeed an era defining band. This time their defence weapon is The New Abnormal.
There couldn’t possibly be a more fitting title and if you’re thinking about it – no, The Strokes are not time travellers, nor future tellers. The title which was revealed back in February comes to prove that in fact it’s not the current global pandemic that marks this world as ‘abnormal’; it simply has always been abnormal. Nevertheless, maybe they did know they would be returning at a crazy time as it’s not a coincidence the band hints at an Eternal Summer or that Julian fittingly commands “We are trying hard to get your attention” on album opener song The Adults Are Talking. An instantly memorable sonic that sits on a killer bass line and the iconic guitar riffs that we’re used to, marking it a more polished version of a classic early 2000s Strokes sound which was first introduced on the second single Bad Decisions. A 70s guitar-infused track opening with the iconic intro from I Melt With You by Modern English while Julian’s elite vocals are stuck in a toxic relationship. It’s safe to say The Strokes definitely have our attention.
The first teaser of the album At The Door firstly came when the five piece were performing in New Hampshire at Bernie Sanders’ rally and we can admit it was an intriguing teaser to what route the band would take. The galactic lo-fi sound is built on a mellow bass line, not too overpowering electro pop synths and gentle guitar plucks which give a Human Sadness by The Voidz vibe, but with a Daft Punk and 80s punch twist. Contrastingly, Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus is a funky heavy on the disco electro synths anthem and an ode to what seems like the band’s favourite era, the 80s as they wonder “And the eighties bands? Oh, where did they go?”. And if you thought Julian’s falsettos were already pretty impressive, wait until you listen to Selfless as he reaches new heights while explaining that “Life is too short, but I will live for you” – perhaps another way of saying You Only Live Once. Take our advice and go back one minute into the song and just let Nick Valensi’s startling guitar solo just sink in.
The New Abnormal’s rousing finale arrives with an Ode To The Mets and although we are not sporting experts, we’ll assume they mean New York Mets baseball team. The six minute track whose title unsurprisingly does not match its lyrics, is an ever evolving sonic that only finds its climax four minutes in with Julian admitting “I was just bored / Playing the guitar / Learned all your tricks / Wasn’t too hard.” Waving goodbye with a pessimistically but very truthfully profound statement “Gone now are the old times / Forgotten, time to hold on the railing”, it purely showcases not only the band’s lyrical, but also mental growth. A growth that is deservingly worth everyone’s attention.