I’ve been really lucky with The Strokes back catalog, finding their first three albums at my local mission thrift for $2 a piece. But when I heard The New Abnormal, I had to buy… when I saw it for $10 on amazon on Black Friday. Deals are king around here!
With Rick Rubin in the producer’s chair, The New Abnormal is some of The Strokes best stuff in 15 years and it is VERY new wave at times.
It isn’t apparent at first. The opener The Adults Are Talking is straight up classic, turn of the millennium The Strokes. A solid pop-rocker with simple delayed guitar effects that give them that clean garage band sound a ton of bands copied for the following 20 years.
Selfless is the same deal, just midtempo and a little more grit in the tone of the lead guitar.
Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus is full on new wave. An synth driven pop tune mixed with The Strokes rock sensibility. Something you can rock out to half of and dance to the next.
As I was listening to Bad Decisions, I could hear a mash up between to new wave hits from the past, Modern English’s I Melt With You with Billy Idol’s vocal melody from Dancing With Myself. I thought, “Oh boy, here is a lawsuit in the making”; but I was happy to see both Billy and Modern’s English’s Tony James listed in the credits. I never associated these two songs together before but it completely works.
Two members of Psychedelic Furs are listed in the credits for Eternal Summer. I’m don’t know enough about Furs to tell you which tune was used as an influence for it, but my wife Sarah thought I was listening to Pink Floyd when she overheard the stereo. I can totally see that.
The 2nd half of the album has the band mellowing out with At The Door, Why Are Sundays So Depressing, and Not The Same Anymore. I normally don’t care for albums that bunch all of their slower tracks together, but these guys make it work. There is enough variations between the melody and tone of each track to keep it interesting.
At the Door‘s opening features only Julian Casablancas’ on vocals with an “synth guitar” backing him up. I’m not usually much of a lyrics guys, but these ones hit home.
You begged me not to go
Sinkin’ like a stone
Use me like an oar
And get yourself to shore
The album’s closer, Ode to the Mets does involve New York City’s OTHER baseball team as Casablancas wrote the lyrics after the Mets lost the 2016 National League Wild Card game. The lyrics are not exactly about baseball. They are either about the feeling of loss after success or completely nonsensical. I can’t tell. I think they play it after every loss at Citi Field now.
And that is The New Abnormal. I give bonus points for its 9 tunes to clocking in at 45 minutes. The perfect length for a rock ‘n roll album. I’m glad I didn’t wait to find this one in a wild. The $10 cover charge has already paid for itself.