The Strokes’ long-awaited to return to the frontline of music is finally upon on us, and in ‘The New Abnormal’, we have something that was certainly worth seven years of waiting for. The New Yorkers prove beyond all doubt with this stunning album that their talent lives up to their influence.
Nearly 20 years after the release of their mythical debut ‘Is This It’, many could be forgiven for thinking The Strokes had had their day- that the revolution they instigated had come and gone and their purpose was served. However, there was to be no acceptance of the inevitable for Julian Casablancas and co.
Missing out the best part of a decade is the best thing the band could have done, as it has allowed them to mature in such a way that has allowed them to retain the best parts of their sound without having to lean on the energy and exuberance of youth. If ‘This Is It’ was a beast, then ‘The New Abnormal’ is definitely a beauty.
Save for a couple of tracks at the end of the first side, most of the record runs at a slower, more measured pace than we’ve heard from The Strokes previously, which allows their artistry to shine through.
Casablancas’ lyrics are wonderful- sensibly dropping the majority of the ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ shtick that was wearing very thin, and his vocal range across the album is a massive contributor to its elegance, particularly when he reaches up into a falsetto.
The guitars of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr have always come together in symbiosis better than almost any other, but on ‘The New Abnormal’ they weave more beautiful patterns than ever before having been freed from the shackles of having to keep up a relentless tempo.
‘Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus’ and the very Cure-esque ‘Bad Decisions’ give the album the punch of energy that is always required, but it’s the grace and grandeur of the pairs of tracks that bookend the record that really hammer home the excellence of what The Strokes have produced. The tender and delicate ‘Selfless’ is a personal highlight.
The Strokes are living proof that it’s never too late for a band to reinvent themselves, and also that you shouldn’t be afraid of taking time out to regroup and rethink. The extent to which they have improved on their music whilst still clinging on to what brought them their success is truly amazing. Listen to ‘The New Abnormal’- you will not be disappointed. Let’s hope they don’t leave us hanging on for so long next time though.