[Album Review] The Strokes | The New Abnormal

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.

The Strokes - The New Abnormal inside

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.

4.5/5

The Strokes - The New Abnormal back Cover

21 comments

  1. Interesting idea about the optimal length – for the 1001 list albums, I appreciate when the albums are efficient. But for most of my rock &/or roll album favourites, I imagine 45 minutes sounds about right.
    Just checked the running time for Fully Completely – 46:47, so yes, that confirms the theory!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Super solid review, I agree almost entirely. I wanted to offer my interpretation of Ode to the Mets though: I think it’s about Casablancas’ rocky history with journalists. Lines like “but it’s not easy/well maybe for you” remind me of things he’s said about not being able to find the right words during interviews, meanwhile lines like “cuts you some slack/as he sits back/sizes you up/plans his attack” and “I will not show my teeth too quick” would be to evoke the “friendly” journalist who turns around and writes about his alcoholism, or how bad at interviews he is, or his general behavior (innocent time, out on his town/Not gonna do that, f*ck, I’m outta control”).

    Probably way more analysis than anyone would ever care about, but I absolutely adore this song, can’t help myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You might be right! For the most part, I find artists leave the lyrics open to interpretation because they rather have them mean something to you than you know what it means to them.

      Like

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