Album #88: The Strokes – The New Abnormal

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: New York City, USA
  • Label: Cult/RCA
  • Best Track: Not the Same Anymore

I’ve never really ‘got’ The Strokes. I certainly don’t dislike them; in fact Is This It was a pretty good album, and I really like ‘Hard to Explain’ – a song that now carries a sense of nostalgia for me.

It’s just that for a period of time, maybe 2001 to 2004, The Strokes were THE band. Their songs were on every university jukebox, they were constantly on the front of NME and on every music channel, and I just never really thought they were original, interesting or good enough to justify it.

I suppose I was pissed off that the band I thought should’ve been the sound of rock music in the new millennium, At the Drive-In, split up shortly into it. After that, it seemed a bit like The Strokes were just in the right place at the right time, cultivating a sound that was perfectly OK, but wasn’t particularly refreshing or conducive to the development of music. Plus it spawned loads of other identikit bands called The (Insert word)s who wanted to make it as obvious as possible that they were a band, and write songs specifically to feature on Soccer AM’s goal montages. Maybe I’m being unfair, but it wasn’t my favourite period of music.

Anyway, that was nearly 20 years ago. Music has changed, the world has changed and I’ve certainly changed, so what about The New Abnormal – the band’s six album and their first since 2013?

Well, for me, it’s still just OK. A bit less OK than their old stuff, actually. There are only two tracks I’d say I like – the keyboard-driven ‘Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus’ and the melancholy ‘Not the Same Anymore’. I love the ‘yeeeeaaaahh’ – simple but effective.

Those two aside, most of the songs on this record are just ‘there’. They don’t make me want to sing along, dance, laugh, cry, feel happy, feel sad, feel anything. They don’t even make me want to turn them off or skip to the next track, although it can be a bit much when Julian Casablancas goes falsetto. The muffled, garagey vocals of the Is This It era were much more agreeable.

If you like The Strokes, I’m sure you’ll like this record. Personally, I find this the epitome of ordinariness and I still don’t see what all the fuss is about, but I’m sure they can live with me thinking that.

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