The Strokes Strike Gold With ‘The New Abnormal’


(Cartoon by Isabelle Schlegel | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Parker Dunn, Online Managing Editor


Legendary indie garage rock band The Strokes are finally back with their first album in seven painstakingly long years, “The New Abnormal.” It hasn’t been a completely dry seven years — the group from New York did drop an EP titled “Future Present Past” back in 2016, but four tracks can only hold me over for so long. This new project boasts production from renowned American record producer Rick Rubin. The album also sports a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, “Bird on Money,” for the cover art, so needless to say, this record has a lot of celebrated artistry attached to it.

“The New Abnormal” runs at just over 45 minutes, with nine new songs that are sure to stir up that signature nostalgic, bittersweet Strokes feeling inside of you. Band members Fabrizio Moretti (drums), Nikolai Fraiture (bass), Albert Hammond Jr. (guitar), Nick Valensi (guitar) and frontman Julian Casablancas (vocals) have had their fair share of struggles as a group in the past, but it’s a new year, a new decade, and this is what I have to say about The Strokes’ radiant return — I love it.

Track number one “The Adults Are Talking” immediately brought a smile to my face as I was reminded of one of my favorite Strokes songs ever, “Hard To Explain.” Both tracks begin with beat-machine percussion, and are soon after accompanied by tuneful guitar lines. This new track, however, takes a road much less traveled when Casablancas abruptly comes in with a quieter-than-usual, gentle delivery. Another novelty — this track features a lovely, improved falsetto from Casablancas at the break, which we hear plenty more of in the following track “Selfless.”

One of my favorite songs on the album, “Selfless” features another soft vocal delivery from Casablancas, and as previously mentioned, a blissfully clean falsetto at the chorus. The latter half of the track, though, is Casablancas returning to his signature throaty, quivering and deep trill. These wonderful vocals are backed by hypnotic arpeggiated chords and steady drumming that make you want to melt.

Retro and bouncy as hell, the fifth track “Eternal Summer” feels like a heavenly heat wave with the dichotomy of Casablancas’ angelic falsetto and moody rasp moving along perfectly with a dragging, stretching reverberated guitar line and funky bass.

The last two tracks are a somber end to the album. Many of Casablancas’ lyrics on this album are about reflecting, and devastatingly melancholic “Not The Same Anymore” is no exception. “Did somethin’ wrong, I wasn’t sure … I couldn’t change, it’s too late,” cries Casablancas across heavy, grungy guitar chords, a mysterious up-and-down bassline and the usual minimalistic drums.

The final track “Ode To The Mets” is also saddening as hope rises and falls with the arpeggios. Casablancas’ closes this track out beautifully as he’s joined in melody with a bittersweet guitar line. He begins with a jittering croon, then moves into an emotional shouting delivery as the song and album come to a close.

Breaking my heart once again — in a good way — The Strokes continue to hold a place as one of my favorite bands of all time with this incredibly cool new record.


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