“The New Abnormal” is The Strokes’ sixth studio album, released April 10. As their popularity has always gone in and out over the decades, the band has never reached obscurity due to hit songs such as “Reptilia’” and “Last Nite” always drawing them back into the limelight of alternative rock. The Strokes have truly defined the garage rock era that emerged in the late 1990s, along with its resurgence in the 2010s.
What The Strokes created was nothing like the music that had been coming out when they first started, starting their own new wave of music. They did not have much in common with the current sound of big bands like The White Stripes who carried an American inspired blues-y rock sound. They sounded more like The Bravery and the Arctic Monkeys who would originate years later and combine heavy guitar sounds with the likes of pop song patterns to mellow out a balance between the two.
“The New Abnormal” carries different sounds throughout its entirety, though songs like “Why Are Sundays So Depressing” create a time warp with its classic sounds and familiar guitar set-up.
“Eternal Summer” begins with sweet high pitched vocals unlike those heard before in Julian Casablancas’ range. It is almost poking fun at what The Strokes really have been doing for the past decade because of its exaggerated pitch which is jarringly refreshing compared to their same old sound. But soon thereafter the deep scratchy monotonous familiar voice comes through in the form of a bridge to the chorus. Undoubtedly this song sounds more like the style Albert Hammond Jr. had released in the past as a solo artist with its happy sounding tonality. It creates a sense of nostalgia with the lyrics that have been reiterated throughout the band’s whole existence of dread and angsty compliance to living at all. It has a summer feel with beachy guitar riffs and youthful liveliness, something that could easily hook radio audiences.
“Bad Decisions” begins strong with a catchy tune and lyrics of the sing-along-in-the-shower variety, with its chorus drifting on to sound like Billy Idol’s “Dancing by Myself,” which sort of ruins the rest of the listening experience. It is so similar, it feels like a cover instead of an original. Though this song has its own unique features here and there, after hearing Billy Idol in there you cannot unhear it.
The music video for “Bad Decisions” implies reproduction, ironically, with a 1970s setting of blowouts and afros in the band.
The premise of the video is that the band members are selling reproductions of themselves to the audience via television as a form of mannequin or doll that can be personalized to the tastes of the customer, changing facial features, hair and wardrobe. It is a commentary on the social expectations of what someone is supposed to be, molded by outsiders who turn to be irrelevant in the long-term because identity is not interchangeable.
Liliana Castañeda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.