The Strokes, saviours of rock ‘n’ roll or affluent city kids at the right place at right time? Or perhaps a little from column A and B….. Like them or loathe them, they have stayed the course of their career, never flooding the market with an abundance of material and taking hiatus breaks just long enough to build up nostalgia and maintain headlining positions at international festivals.
On listening to the latest offering, The New Abnormal, I’m at odds with the sound of the album. Almost as if I’m listening to a new Duran Duran release in an attempt at an edgy direction. Overall the material here is New Wave throwback meeting a painfully modern production quality leaving a mainstream radio friendly sheen.
There is a basis for some great songs on the album for the most part, although cluttered with hometown-isms which for me comes across as clichéd and a hallmark of an act running out of ideas (hello Red Hot Chili Peppers).
The first two tracks showcase a particularly barren lo-fi sound, to a more successful degree on second song “Selfless”. As soon as it’s over we are awoken into a feverish, unpleasant delirium of the Killers esque “Brooklyn Bridge To The Chorus”.
Where to begin with second single “Bad Decisions”. Already publicised and forgiven by critics for the heavy lifting from Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself”, no one seems to have noticed that the verses have been ripped from Modern English’s “Melt With You”. Following on from this we have “Eternal Summer”, reminiscent in my mind of a drunken Marilyn Manson jamming with Phoenix on some Psychedelic Furs melodies. These two tracks alone show enough appropriating to make Noel Gallagher shake his head in disbelief.
The real high points of the album reveal themselves in the second half. “At The Door” and “Not The Same Anymore” are exquisite and desolate, showing Casablanca’s finest vocal moments on the entire record. Even the poppier “Why Are Sundays So Depressing” can drag the unconverted along for the ride.
Album finisher “Ode To The Mets” brings us on home. It certainly displays passion but ends up falling short in measure against the strength of the previous tracks.
Overall the album has the potential to make a very interesting artifact in terms of being the sound of a band who arguably defined their era/scene, coping with middle age and avoiding predictability. And I must stress that this is a compliment, changing and adapting is a virtue. In this case though they do not quite hit the mark on the road of creative development well trodden by Neil Young, Bowie, Prince, Depeche Mode etc etc etc.
Buy The New Abnormal Here
Author: Dan Kasm