The Strokes The New Abnormal RCA Records
The artwork for The New Abnormal features Basquiat’s Bird on Money, a tribute by the artist to one of his heroes, Charlie Parker. Like the jazz legend, The Strokes were once credited with changing the course of an entire genre early on in their career. Nearly 20 years later, they’re almost considered a heritage act – too important not to spark excitement but unlikely to start another revolution.
The New Yorkers’ first album in seven years might not rejuvenate indie but it’s a satisfying listen. Feeling like a logical continuation of 2013’s Comedown Machine, flashes of experimentalism stave off too much predictability. The Adults Are Talking and the Billy Idol-referencing Bad Decisions cleave closest to classic Strokes, while Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus is propelled by 80s retro-futuristic synths and Eternal Summer brilliantly tempers hazy pop with urgent, unsettling discord.
Ode to the Mets is the record’s discombobulating standout – a melancholy gem that subtly recalls Human Sadness by Julian Casablancas’ other band, The Voidz. It also uncovers a running theme in The New Abnormal: a vulnerable Casablancas. “I need love!” he hollers in a desperate rasp on the meandering At the Door, his question seemingly answered shortly after: “Have I lost it all?”
Regardless of their frontman’s fortunes, on their sixth album The Strokes prove they’ve still got plenty to offer – even if it won’t change the world.