The phrase “In these strange and difficult times” has become synonymous with the Corona -smitten first half of 2020, adorning everything from email sign offs to TV advertisements. Strokes fans may be able to appropriate the same phrase to the bands latest offering.
For many people January 31st 2019 was the usual drab affair, but for a portion of Strokes fans it was time to hear the news they had been waiting for. As the clock struck midnight on a new decade, Julian Casablancas announced, “The 2010s, whatever the fuck they’re called, we took ’em off, and now we’ve been unfrozen and we’re back.” The result, an eruption of excitement at the band’s New Year’s Eve show in Brooklyn.
Even though the past ten years of output have left me on the verge of giving up hope, I could not deny my own anticipation upon hearing the news. After all, what better time to launch their comeback than a period where great expectations are welcomed and parties even more so.
The New Abnormal is the Strokes’ sixth album and although they could not have been privy to prophetic title, sadly my Strokes prophecy is coming true.
The latest album just feels sluggish, a full set of five-minuteish sounds that all seem to blend together and disappear into the background. A far departure from the endorphin inducing of the early 2000’s version I fell in love with. There is a familiarity with this album which comes from the various referencing of 80’s classics, most pertinently Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” in Bad Decisions and the overall style is a departure from previous for which credit should be due.
There are some highlights in particular “Ode to the Mets” exhibiting Casablancas falsetto in style. “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” also proves to be catchy, “I want new friends, but they don’t want me/ They’re making plans while I watch TV/ Thought it was you, but maybe it’s me/ I want new friends, but they don’t want me/ And the Eighties song, yeah, how did it go?”
But the spark fades quickly, taking my thoughts back to that first album again and again constantly thinking, Is This It?