While not ground breaking or completely revolutionary in the rock genre, The New Abnormal shines as The Strokes’ best effort in more than a decade and offers a stark reminder of why we fell in love with them seventeen years ago when Room On Fire graced our CD and cassette players.
The Strokes have had a strange journey from 2011 to their sixth album set to release. With Angles, the Strokes struggled to find a clear direction to take the group. The album came out sounding like a number of auditions to the band’s future. Comedown Machine was lacking in cohesion to the point that it seemed as if the group had run out of steam and was just on life support.
There’s something very familiar sprinkled in hints throughout the new record. Perhaps it’s Julian Casablancas’ crooning voice occasionally curling into a growl just as it did on Is This It, or maybe it’s the guitar tones that ring with that nostalgic sound that made danceable garage rock so influential for the New York City scene, or maybe it’s finally a sense of cohesion that exists on the album that has not been around in well over seventeen years.
Songs present a slick-as-hell sound we’ve come to expect on classic Strokes records all while presenting something new. Opening number “The Adults Are Talking” and “Bad Decisions” boast off groovy riffs with tight production and some 80’s inspired tint. New sounds include the new wave inspired “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” and “At the Door” with the later serving as an impressive bare-boned synth ballad that showcases Julian Casablancas’ vocal range and song-writing ability that would not be too unfamiliar with The Voidz.
It’s a performance that’s pretty rare for the singer that usually prefers to keep fans at arms length, but one that will no doubt live as a fan favorite. “Why Are Sunday’s So Depressing” is a song that feels like it could fit in alongside the first two records with the in-your-face drumming and the catchy guitars trading riffs with each other. Julian also seems to sing in his usual carefree way and transitions to a slick falsetto without skipping a beat or compromising the song.
“Not the Same Anymore” begins as a dreary song that could easily find its way backing a James Bond film. “Ode to the Mets” serves the powerful album closer that leaves the listener in complete shock as to what they just listened to…it truly is one of the more impressive cuts on the album all due to the powerful guitars, vocals, and slow burn that explodes into goosebump inducing bliss.
The only true hiccup throughout the track list occurs in “Eternal Summer,” but this is only because the tune takes a while before it truly gets where it needs to go. The Strokes know they’re not breaking any musical genres or presenting an album changer the way they did nearly twenty years ago. Instead, this is a bright album with a shiny new coat that the Strokes will be able to boast about.
By Caleb Ortiz