The Strokes prove that this isn’t it with “The New Abnormal”
The Strokes are a household band in terms of 2000’s rock music, releasing the commercially and critically acclaimed “Is This It” in 2001 and following that up with “Room on Fire” in 2003, but after those two hit records, The Strokes failed to make an album that captured the emotional rawness of “Is This It.” They released “First Impressions of Earth” in 2006, “Angles” in 2011, and “Comedown Machine” in 2013, with none of them really impressed fans and sparking inter-band fighting (I personally, for example, enjoyed “Angles” and “Comedown Machine”). Afterward, the band went on a break and didn’t release any albums for seven years, but on April 10, 2020, The Strokes released their newest album, “The New Abnormal” and is one of the best albums The Strokes have made, period.
In “The New Abnormal”, we see The Strokes move forward in their sound, changing and evolving while also keeping their original tone.
“The Adults Are Talking” is the first track on the album and it perfectly encapsulates this adjustment, from the tight production– thanks to legendary producer Rick Rubin– to lead singer Julain Casablancas singing to us, “We are trying hard to get your attention,” before switching to falsetto.
This album has also some of the best lyrics penned from the band, with the band’s third single and third track “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” having Casablancas reminiscing about his past. The chorus has him telling us that he wants “new friends, but they don’t want me, They’re making plans while I watch TV,” with tastes of 80’s new wave tossed into the mix.
While synthesizers are laced throughout the album, that doesn’t mean the guitars are gone. Guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. and bassist Nikolai Fraiture add to their work and make songs like “Bad Decisions,” in which they repurpose Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” into a spring anthem for Strokes fans, and they know subtlety is needed for the song “At the Door,” which only features Casablancas singing and a pulsing synth. Casablancas’ singing is the clearest it’s ever been and this song highlights it.
The track “Eternal Summer” feels as if the band time-traveled to present-day 2020 and wrote about it, singing, “They got the remedy, But they won’t let it happen,” with yet again Casablancas falsetto adding to the atmosphere of the track.
While in the closing track, “Ode to The Mets”, the beginning bass synth doesn’t fit and in any other track, it would have killed the track before people finished it, the rest of the song is breathtaking and adds to one of my favorite parts on The Strokes discography.
It has also become a meme in The Strokes’ fan community when the drummer Fabrizio “Fab” Moretti forgot to come in and you literally hear Casablancas say “Drums please, Fab” on the recording. Fab said in an interview with French news site Les Inrockuptibles, “I think that’s when I went out to get a sandwich, just as the guys were starting to play. I got back behind my drums pretty quickly.”
To simply say that the band is back on the right track with this track is a huge understatement., This album is one of the best of 2020 and one of the best The Strokes have made. They have definitely caught my attention. I recommend a listen during this isolating time. 4/5 stars.