The Strokes – ‘The New Abnormal’ – Album Review

Watch me attempt to write a non-biased review about the best band in the world. Woops, already failed.

IT’S FINALLY HERE! The promise of new music from The Strokes has been one of the only things getting me through this lockdown. I’ve told just about anyone who would listen (and several people who wouldn’t) about The New Abnormal – and now, I’m telling you. Just when the world needed them most, these five lovely lads have returned with a set of brand new tunes, and I couldn’t be more excited. Let’s go!

1. The Adults Are Talking

What a phenomenal opening song. The band debuted this live last year, and I never really gave it proper attention, but it has amazing energy. It sounds so familiar, but so new at the same time. Could this be the kind of mix we can expect from The New Abnormal?

2. Selfless

This is an absolutely beautiful love song, with the vocals spanning a range of emotions: unbearable sadness, nostalgia, bliss. The bittersweet chorus has some fantastic lyrics – ‘Life is too short, but I will live for you’ – but there are lovely images written throughout. I truly hope I get to see this performed live someday.

3. Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus

I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. The start is amazing – the fast-paced keys really reminded me of Angles, the band’s fourth album, and that’s definitely a good thing. The song has an amazing momentum – and then the chorus hits, and it’s just a bit…meh. I don’t think it’s showing off the best of what The Strokes can do, and it just doesn’t seem to fit after the promising beginning. That said, this song is always in my head, so it must be doing something right.

4. Bad Decisions

YES YES YES. The Strokes released this track in February, and I’ve listened to it at least twice a day ever since. As usual, Julian’s voice is perfection, but I also think this song is simply really well-crafted, with some amazing guitar riffs. I’d also encourage you to check out the music video for ‘Bad Decisions’, which features my heart’s desire: a device that makes The Strokes instantly appear, wherever you are. I can dream…

5. Eternal Summer

Okay, I think I’m in love. It’s genuinely hard for me to express what I felt when I first listened to ‘Eternal Summer’, but I think it might be the coolest song I have ever heard. It’s effortlessly groovy, and the chorus is unbelievable. It makes you nostalgic for all of the summers you’ve ever had and all the summers you will have, which is an optimistic image in these troubled times. Sure, it gets a bit shouty at certain points, but that just adds layers to an already beautifully made song. At just over 6 minutes, it’s the longest track on the album, but I just wanted this to go on forever. A masterpiece.

6. At The Door

Also released in February alongside ‘Bad Decisions’, this song definitely isn’t my favourite, but it’s thoughtful and well-paced nonetheless. I think it demonstrates Julian’s vocal range at its best, and I really like the quiet, almost ominously dreamlike ending. A very cool track.

Copyright Pitchfork.

7. Why Are Sunday’s So Depressing

I’m really not sure what to make of this song yet. It has a lot of elements that make up a classic Strokes song but, as with The Adults Are Talking, it’s doing something new with them, particularly in the chorus with its weird sound effects. The guitar is masterful in this song, once again, but I entirely forget what it sounds like as soon as I’ve finished listening to it. I like what’s going on here, but it’s going to take me a few more tries before I can fully appreciate it.

8. Not The Same Anymore

We’re back to familiar territory with this song, and I really love it. The amount of rhymes they found for ‘anymore’ is pretty impressive – ‘You’d make a better window than a door’ is definitely my favourite lyric. I get early album vibes from this, like Room on Fire and even Is This It, so it’s nice to have something chill and recognisable amongst all the new.

9. Ode To The Mets

How have we reached the last song already? Luckily, it’s a good one, with a cool synth opening that fades into beautiful guitar. The song has great pace, and hearing Julian say the now iconic line, ‘Drums please, Fab,’ feels like an added treat. The ‘Ode’ from the title makes this an appropriate final song that feels like a tribute to the album, and indeed to the early days of the band. Although I’m sad to let the album end, I’m glad they chose this song to do it.

Final thoughts

Best song: ‘Eternal Summer’, obviously (with ‘Selfless’ a very close second).
Least interesting song: ‘Why Are Sunday’s So Depressing’, but it could grow on me (and probably will).
Only 9 songs? You can’t blame me, or any fan, for wanting more. But it’s clear that they’ve worked really hard on each one, and after 7 years of waiting for a new album, I’ll happily take quality over quantity.

Ultimately, with all the uncertainty in the world right now, an album called The New Abnormal seems very appropriate. But amidst the confusion, it’s comforting to know I can still rely on my favourite band to improve my mood with their incredible music.

Featured image Copyright The Strokes.

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