Seven years on from the well-received, ‘Comedown Machine’, The Strokes’ latest album, ‘The New Abnormal’ shows signs that the band are putting their turbulent past behind them.
‘The New Abnormal’ is a much mellower affair than most of The Strokes’ previous incarnations and Casablanca seems to have put less focus on distorting and shouting out his vocals. They’re clearer, crisper and, in a sense, more confident and comfortable. He’s even stretching to the high notes on ‘Selfless’ and ‘Eternal Summer’ while doing a good job of it too.
There’s a distinct lo-fi sound throughout the album’s 45 minutes and The Strokes’ trademark distorted strumming is generally replaced throughout by carefully produced jangly, reverberating guitars that swim around the speakers.
An exception to this is on the eighties’ retro dance-beat and keyboard ‘Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus’. It’s an unashamed eighties kickback which is affirmed when Casablanca sings ‘And the eighties song, yeah, how did it go’, and later, ‘And the eighties bands, where did they go?’ This is followed later with ‘Eternal Summer’ which, with Michael Jackson-sounding vocals, a Kavinsky beat and elements of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, merges a whole host of seventies and eighties pop influences.
‘Bad Decisions’ is another reflection on the past, the title self explanatory. ‘The New Abnormal’ is an album of reflection, of regret, but also of trying to accept the past. Because of this, The Strokes have been able to let go and relax, even experiment a little with their sound. They’re older and, while their troubles may not completely be behind them, there’s a sense that they’ve learnt from them and are beginning to move on.
The Strokes have looked to the past, both musically and personally, for this album’s inspiration and have been able to use this to make a fresh sound for themselves and take a slight shift in direction while keeping their style. It’s a welcome return for the New Yorkers and a hugely enjoyable new album.