Article by Andrés Alvarado
With their 6th LP, The Strokes navigate through both uncharted waters and familiar paths. The New Abnormal displays the Julian Casablancas-led quintet in a selfishly mature place; purposely distancing themselves from that slipshod formula offered on Comedown Machine and nearly reverting back to that fan-favorite recipe of the early years. An experimental approach is embraced, akin to a slightly tapered Voidz gusto. The New Abnormal is a record by The Strokes for The Strokes, not for the fans, not for the record label and not for the critics — and the result is most welcomed.
Leading the charge on The New Abnormal is the sonic symphony that is Ode to the Mets. Packed with jarring sentimentality, Ode to the Mets is not quite about those lovable losers in Queens, New York, but of that sensation of constant disappointment and the unreasonable ensuing allegiance. “The only thing that’s left is us // So pardon the silence that you’re hearing // Is turnin’ into a deafening, painful, shameful roar,” sings Casablancas in his signature gritty baritone conveying years of frustration. Ode to the Mets is simply a beautiful melody brimming of lyrical self-melancholy and a mid-paced power ballad bravado.
Other notable numbers include the keys-heavy ’80s dance party vibes of Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus, the drum-less and simplistic elegance of the ethereal At the Door, Selfless with its direct gateway to The Strokes circa their early 20s, the Billy Idol-credited Bad Decisions, Not the Same Anymore with its wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve milieu, and the solo-Casablancas reminiscent The Adults Are Talking.
The New Abnormal does suffer its one heavy pitfall by way of the peppy pop Psychedelic Furs/Daft Punk cross contaminated Eternal Summer and its wonky attempt to inspire global warming awareness. For all intents and purposes, Eternal Summer vibes of youngsters on spring break polluting the beaches; which backfires on the attempted intent.
Overall, The New Abnormal is not Is This It or Room on Fire. Quite frankly, those efforts would be close to impossible to replicate; nonetheless, this is The Strokes finest achievement since their sophomore outing. From the production-steering of the legendary Rick Rubin to the Jean-Michel Basquiat album cover artwork, The New Abnormal is proof The Strokes are experts at handpicking elements that oomph their cool to the nth degree. Now let us hope that The New Abnormal is the new normal for these New Yorkers moving forward.
Album Score: 8/10 — Key Tracks: Ode to The Mets, Selfless and The Adults Are Talking.