sat 30/05/2020

Album: The Strokes - The New Abnormal | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Strokes - The New Abnormal

Album: The Strokes - The New Abnormal

New York rock saviours swagger into middle-age

Their debut’s title was a disillusioned shrug, and for most of the 19 years since Is This It, The Strokes have continued with seeming reluctance, releasing new albums fitfully.

Their debut’s title was a disillusioned shrug, and for most of the 19 years since Is This It, The Strokes have continued with seeming reluctance, releasing new albums fitfully. But here they are, still riding the afterglow of Manhattan’s decadent energy in the season before 9/11 and Giuliani’s clampdown, and with producer Rick Rubin, career resurrection a speciality, on hand to tease out growth beyond the Television tribute act they once resembled.

The New Abnormal is a diverse and mature sixth album, exuding worldly confidence as it dismisses the detractors, rivals and lovers of a time less amenable than their hedonist pomp, opener “The Adults Are Talking” refusing all lessons from our moralising moment.

Songs are sophisticated constructions, built from several decades’ spare pop parts into sleek yet angular tunes. “Bad Decisions” references Bono, Blondie and “Walk On the Wild Side”, the deadpan Eighties deconstruction of “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” offers Pet Shop Boys sonic booms and Morrissey yodels. Drawing on Some Girls’ disco Stones, “Eternal Summer” even stumbles on rage. “Psychedelic/This is the eleventh hour/My colleagues, your silence is no longer needed,” Julian Casablancas rants, concluding, “Everybody’s on the take/Tell me, are you on the take, too?” Is this The Strokes’ nod to the America outside their studio, to the way Trump’s, not punk’s, New York runs the show?

Casablancas’s voice is The Strokes’ emotional compass, its premature, narcotic weariness perversely powering them through the early mayhem of fame’s answered prayers. Having further dragged out Lou Reed’s take on Dylan’s drawl in a New York generation game of vocal entropy, it is here an agile croon, stretching to soul falsettos and dropping into thuggish Jagger howls. It’s a dissolute murmur, and petulant kiss-off.

Like Hamilton Leithauser of their unlucky peers The Walkmen, there’s a hint of Sinatra as these millennial bright young things lead their fans into middle-age. The wisdom offered by The New Abnormal is appropriately ironic. Where its predecessor Comedown Machine found melancholy, the band now sound bullish, certain at last of their future. 

There’s a hint of Sinatra as these millennial bright young things lead their fans into middle-age

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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