The Strokes - The New Abnormal
Apr 10, 2020
I love this.

Not only is The New Abnormal my favorite album so far this year, it's my favorite Strokes album and one of the most flawlessly consistent rock albums I've heard in ages. I started to tear up on the last track when I knew it was almost over. I really did not want this album to end. Something this magical only happens once in a blue moon.

After saying that you're probably assuming I'm a huge Strokes fan, right? Actually no, not really! I have never been that into The Strokes. While I do really enjoy their first few albums, they never clicked with me on the level that they have for a lot of people. As a band they clearly had a major influence on a lot of the indie rock artists I enjoy today, so of course I respected them. However nothing The Strokes had done to this point affected me like this new album. It's a masterfully crafted album that feels profoundly mature while sticking to the carefree vibe of the Strokes' previous albums. And it makes me appreciate those albums so much more.

With a healthy balance of catchy singles and slower more introspective cuts, this album feels so well balanced and perfectly paced. Even with the melancholy of songs like "Not The Same Anymore" and "At The Door", it still manages to sound so bright and summery. "Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus", "Bad Decisions", and "Eternal Summer" are all radio-friendly rock jams that that both diehard Strokes fans and casual radio listeners will no doubt enjoy. "The Adults Are Talking" is a song I've known about for some time as the band have been playing it live, however hearing it for the first time I can say this is definitely one of my favorite Strokes songs. Julian Casablancas' vocals on this song and the entire album are incredible. I've seen multiple people say the same thing so I want to also make it clear that I think everyone's performance is amazing. However Julian himself really steals the show in my opinion. A handful of the instrumentals are admittedly simple, but I'm a strong believer in simplistic perfection. If it wasn't for Julian's vocal performance perhaps I would have disregarded this as another standard indie/synth rock album. In contrast to the past few Strokes projects though, Julian truly sounds like his heart is in it this time. And there are very few people I would rather hear sing over these instrumentals than him.

As an aside, something I actually haven't seen many people talk about are the very brief skits at the end of a few tracks. Normally I don't enjoy random skits unless they are 100% necessary to the album concept. And while these skits are not necessary to the album, I strangely think they add so much to the tone. They're just studio fragments but their inclusion, along with the more personal lyrics of the album, make The New Abnormal feel so intimate. It's like I'm sitting in the studio with the band as they play. And honestly it's such a refreshing feeling knowing that tensions were high in the band during the early 2010s especially on the recording front. I'm pretty sure Julian even addresses it briefly in a line on "Not The Same Anymore" and it's adds even more meaning to an already emotionally heavy song . After a 7 year gap (even longer than that if we're taking into consideration the mediocrity of Comedown Machine and the below average F/P/P EP), hearing the band perform together with such harmony and deliver a nearly perfect record in my eyes is one of the most beautiful moments to happen to rock music.

So yeah I really love this album. As ironic as it is, it takes an album called The New Abnormal to make me so happy. It's too soon to tell, but this could be my definitive Summer album for 2020 (at least until the new Car Seat Headrest comes along to battle for that title). If the Strokes are back again making music together then I'm looking forward to see where they go next...let's just hope we don't have to wait another seven years for that.


Favorite tracks: At The Door, The Adults Are Talking, Not The Same Anymore, Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus, Bad Decisions, Ode to the Mets, Why Are Sundays So Depressing?, Selfless

Least favorite track: Eternal Summer (If I have to pick one)
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