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Review: The Strokes – The New Abnormal

It’s been a long wait but The Strokes have returned with their sixth album, The New Abnormal. Our verdict is in on the New Yorkers’ latest record.

Words by Declan O’Dwyer

The Strokes
The Strokes are back with The New Abnormal, their first album in seven years.

The new album title by The Strokes is fitting for the unprecedented times we are living through. The New Abnormal is their sixth album. A full 19 years on from their hugely feted and influential debut, Is This It?

Beginning ones career with an album like that can be a heavy burden for a group to bear, as every subsequent work can be compared to it, meaning some of it can be undervalued. That could leave many waiting for a sequel of sorts, which can be creatively limiting for artists who want to move forward.

So to the music on this album. Track opener, ‘The Adults Are Talking’, has a bright and bouncy intro to it. It has a delightful chorus. Their trademark guitar is evident throughout with lovely keyboards closing out the track. It’s the best thing on here.

While the overall mood doesn’t change too much on next track ‘Selfless’, there is however, more restraint in the guitar work. Julian Casablancas can be heard singing in a falsetto tone for some of the track. Indeed his changing vocal tone throughout is one of the more interesting aspects of this album. This may not be as hook-laden as the opener but a worthy addition nonetheless.

On ‘Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus’, the techno beat is infectious. There is a definite 80s feel to it. Indeed that the decade is mentioned in the lyric is a little more than tongue-in-cheek. It is homage to the era:

“And the eighties song, yeah, how did it go?…”

If the track, ‘Bad Decisions’ sounds like something you heard before, that’s because you probably did. It is in its essence a re-writing of the Generation X track ‘Dancing with Myself’. Anyone wondering about plagiarism issues need not bother as the songwriters have been credited and no doubt compensated.

The track, ‘Eternal Summer’ takes me back to the Daft Punk album Access Random Memories, especially in the vocals. It’s got a disco sheen and groups like Tame Impala and Caribou can also be heard creeping in.

Why Are Summers So Depressing?’ sounds like a Morrissey song title. There is a mood change here as Casablancas was singing about an eternal summer two tracks earlier. It is looking back on simpler times. Although sonically, you wouldn’t think so with its delightful guitar sound merging seamlessly with the electro pulse.

On ‘Not The Same Anymore’ there is a definite change in mood musically. It has got a type of an Artic Monkeys’ Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino atmosphere or to be more accurate, The Last Shadow Puppets. The Strokes have such a distinct sound on The New Abnormal, while at times on this record, still wearing their influences on their sleeves, yet never resorting to parody.

This is a return to form for The Strokes. While The New Abnormal doesn’t have too many obvious singles, it never lags and remains an enjoyable listen throughout. It sounds less fragmented than recent releases.

As a unit they seem to want to test themselves creatively, while reigning themselves in enough, as to not lose their original fanbase. I for one will be interested to see what they come up with in the future.

The New Abnormal, the new album from The Strokes.
The New Abnormal, the new album from The Strokes, is out now and available on vinyl from May 1st.

Verdict: 8/10

Key Tracks: ‘The Adults Are Talking’ and ‘Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus

Due to COVID-19, The New Abnormal’s vinyl release got pushed back to Friday 1st May. While many businesses are closed during these times, the guys at MusicZone.ie are still open and delivering records. So be sure to support one of Cork’s finest record stores and get your order in now by clicking here.

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