2001 signalled the indie-rock revolution spearheaded by the New York City rockers The Strokes, and their groundbreaking debut album Is This It.
Across nearly two-decades and five albums, the boys have served us a hell of a lot of hits and a fair chunk of misses. A compact taste of a return to form came in 2016, with mini-EP Future Present Past, folding in their beloved guitar-driven, indie rock flavour with their latter electronic experiments for a balanced blend of Strokes sounds. This is a recipe that they have maintained for The New Abnormal.
A standard 4/4 drum machine march opens the album for ‘The Adults Are Talking’, shortly joined by a winsome guitar line that is sure to be the go-to riff for their aspiring guitarist fans.
Vocalist Julian Casablancas eases in with restrained murmurs, hitting his gorgeous falsetto in the latter half of the track, a feature that appears throughout the album body. The dreamy, rather simplistic ‘Selfless’ follows with a basic melodic major scale progression but is so well executed, it is transportive.
Speaking of transporting, the ’80s called and they want their questionable synths back from ‘Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus’. We can forgive it though, given the rest of the song could pass as The New Abnormal’s answer to ‘Trying Your Luck’.
Already a hit, ‘Bad Decisions’ is the best decision for the lead single, while ‘Not The Same Anymore’ is the indie rock standout. ‘Eternal Summer’ vocally bounces between crisp Tame Impala and The Clash-flavoured grit, served with a beachy backdrop, and ‘Why Are Sundays So Depressing’ screams The O.C soundtrack with its bubbly verses and pulsing chorus.
‘At The Door’ and its sister piece ‘Ode To The Mets’ give us Casablancas’ raw throat and belly vocal lines, again projected on a simple background, simmering us along through the album experience.
The New Abnormal will sink into The Strokes’ catalogue well, but by no means will it have the lasting impact of the band’s first three albums.