The Review I Never Thought I’d Write – The Strokes – The New Abnormal

Really, the review I never thought I’d write.

The Strokes. 

The New Abnormal.

Someone asked what that meant. Well…

Have you been to any of their concerts? Who were you? Not bro, not high school girl, not rich banker, not any of the Jeffrey Epstein group or anyone looking for trash and punk in the front end, front row of this what was the next century.

When Spotify and all the usual outlets push it up and you’re home alone along with a million other people then pressing play seems natural. Nature. There it is. I’ll be waiting there outside, Julian sings. Who?

Stockholders! coming out in the middle of a moment where you wonder who would be strong enough to wrench away the Casio makes it all funny. Is it all a joke, and do they get it. 

And like with the “outtakes” are they still surprised at how much they can get away with in the name of art? We are, after all, in the times when groups are signed on the strength of the jingles they write for product.

Product. Branding. Placement.

Can you escape once the name is on the label?

Those colors. They are familiar.

Maybe that’s what “The Adults Are Talking” is trying to say. Or maybe not. Did you want certainties? Even now?

It’s funny that none of the reviews I’ve seen so far – apologies to all I haven’t – have mentioned that he’s singing clearly. Or that there isn’t a ton of stuff, effects, pollution, haze, on what is a remarkable scrawl of a voice. 

These days I’m always blessing the bass player. But you’ve got to give credit here where the thick incessant tone is a blessed antidote to any casioexcess, and even to the twittering guitar sharpness, the oil to the vinegar, sliding us through. Even this song, “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus”, which you feel could be more but probably resisted, the way some things do, and insisted on being itself, is listenable. 

“Bad Decisions” starts out all Blondie without the sex, before drifting into Billy Idol without the UK punk background. Then it shifts again, drums, another 80s song I can’t think of, but I know it. I know. It’s better without the video but then again a lot of songs are. Dancing with myself. Of course many of the dear little american ones in the 80s didn’t get the joke then, and their children don’t either, or if they do, they no longer have the urge. I think Julian and his band of the previously dissolute may know this. Or I may just hope they do. But Blondie knew to keep their songs short. Love em leave em.

“Eternal Summer.” Take those chances, boyo. Then it’s exciting. Following your every throaty note, from up to down, that’s another 80s song, fuck which one is it. Don’t care. Oh now wait – it’s Pink Floyd. God I love this. It’s like playing Name That Tune with a brain that moves too fast. All these sounds. You know, this could be the future. “Your silence is no longer needed.” That’s right.

I so did not expect to like this album. After all they’ve meant to me at different moments, and all the disappointments, few of them their fault.

“At The Door.” I can’t escape it – the casio. But it’s got so much. Operatic. Is he worried that the …oh but then the casio shit dies and the brilliant thing comes through, “use me like an oar, get yourself to shore,” maybe it’s like when the moon comes through the clouds as the garbage truck pulls away. Only a dreamer would find beauty in the dirt… The dips and swoops of his voice are like the birds that come to perch briefly on your fire escape. Reminds you. Yes. Now they use the bass. There’s nothing wrong with an anchor.

Full disclosure. I really liked his solo album.

Wait. Listen to that choirboy voice. Can someone give him a Fairlight? Or would that be…

It would be great.  But in the meantime, listen to this middle 8. Bridge to fucking beginning to have faith and hope.

But they are so untrustworthy. I guess that’s how it goes. And probably explains the bar band tinny hi hat Rolling Stones vibe of “Why are Sunday’s So Depressing”. And at first the website fucks up their apostrophes. Good. “You’re hiding in the background but you want to be found.” Yes. But neither you or the Rolling Stones who you are channeling will do that, but it’s ok. And jesus they are a tight band when they play band not casio backing. Live too. They move together like a weird unit when everyone thinks together. Staying hungry – and angry. Yes. maybe. 

“The click was always in you, Fab.”

Can’t tell if I’m sorry they think this is the part of the image.

“You’re not the same anymore/don’t want to play that game anymore”

Well at least they know.

“Not The Same Anymore”, while being a pastiche of some of my favorite songs from albums 2 and 3, has a French film anti-hero vibe.

“The child prisoner grows up to seek his enemy’s throat cut.” 

The very last song fully gives in to its cinematic longings. This is the music you dream of sitting in a dark theatre, where the images come from your own mind, but all of it feels cast already, and scripted already, and it was a good cast, and a good script, but should you throw it over anyway, just because?

Maybe the crack is starting to widen. There’s a desperation, like the 70s TV show that wanted to be modern while having a post-war brutalist and bomb site background.

“I’m going to find out the truth when I get back.”

That voice. If this song had a video it should be Julian at the helm of a small boat in a force 10 gale – fighting the elements while people, drinking cocktails with umbrellas, watch.

Bankers, you don’t deserve him.