Timely return to form from Brooklyn’s finest.
The Strokes are somewhat of an oddball within 21st Century rock acts, akin to latter day Oasis new material being met with a middling response following 2 acclaimed albums at the start of their careers, in this case 2001’s Is this it which shot the New Yorkers to rock superstardom and 2003’s Room on fire which definitely sit at the top of many’s list of rock albums this side of the millennium. While there are some who like each of the 3 following albums they have all largely drawn middling critical and fan reception. Does the New Abnormal the long awaited 7th album (appropriately following a 7 year release gap) represent a return to form or more of the same?
For the most part this new release seems to have been taken more seriously by Julian Cassablancas, Albert Hammond and co, and is a release that acknowledges their past sound and sets a path the group might follow next, it is perhaps a more rounded attempt at a transition in sound than the Artic Monkeys’s divisive 2018 release Tranquility Base and Casino. The churning punk guitar sound is still present in large doses, but is now often accompanied by synths and a more 80s sounding tunes as seems to be a common theme with Indie and pop acts lately.
The record opens very strongly with the trio of the Adults are talking, Selfless and Brooklyn Bridge to chorus, the 3 tracks representing some of the best back to back tracks put out by the group since Room on fire. Bad Decisions inhabits more disco territory and gives a writing to Billy Idol, as the chorus is strikingly similar to “Dancing with myself”, it’s sure to be popular at many an indie disco when we can all boogie again. Eternal summer feels somewhere between Prince and Two Door cinema club, a far cry from the groups earlier material, I can’t work out whether the falsetto heavy track works or not, it verges on being too much.
The first single dropped earlier in the year is an odd track, very synth heavy, at first I was sceptical of this transition in sound however after a few listens I’ve come to quite like the track. Some of the more mixed/negative feedback of this record has focused on the albums second half with high praise for its first half, it is true that perhaps the songs on the back end are a bit more interchangeable however I do appreciate the group taking risks and not playing it safe, it definitely makes the album less predictable and hints at some changes in direction for future releases.
Overall the record feels like far more of a success than not and if not a complete return to form is definitely a step in the right direction, the group are now positioned a bit like the Rolling stones in the early 80s not irrelevant and still capable of delivering but not quite as consistent as they once were, however if the reviews of their surprise Camden Roundhouse gig in February are anything to go by they can still tear it up live, and I’ll be keeping my out for full tour tickets.
Words by Christopher Connor
Listen to the brand new album from The Strokes on Spotify below!