Released 19 years on from their pioneering debut album, The Strokes’ sixth instalment, The New Abnormal, provides a contemporary and refreshing sound whilst reinstituting familiar qualities that we know and love. The album is composed of nine songs with some resembling more closely the earlier work of the band and others creeping into more ingenious and experimental territory.
It is worth noting that the contextual references vary from track to track, covering everything from personal experience to perhaps the state of the topical political landscape. ‘Bad Decisions’, an early release from the album, briefly graced this landscape when publicly played for the first time in February at a rally for Democrat and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This seems a fitting yet unsurprising debut as frontman Casablancas has frequently been known to express his apparent scepticism and disillusionment with the functionality of Capitalism. In our opinion, the opening track on The New Abnormal ‘The Adults are Talking’ takes on a seemingly insubordinate tone, a somewhat direct denunciation of the corrupt and immoral businessmen or politicians at the helm of our society. However, other tracks seem to take a more personal, reflective tone and something that perhaps a listener can relate to.
The instrumentation of The New Abnormal is ambitious, prominent use of synths accentuates the new wave influences present whilst contrasting the traditional garage rock stature of their earlier albums. However, an air of familiarity is secured by the development of riffs that are reminiscent of their more ‘traditional’ style. Each instrument present has been skillfully adapted to create an air of depth and atmosphere throughout each track. There is an interesting variety in valence created by the diversity in the tone of synths especially and there are many examples of manipulated dynamics throughout. From the thumping percussion of ‘Not The Same Anymore’ to the falsettos Casablancas delivers so effortlessly in ‘Eternal Summer’, there’s a clear sense of instrumental maturity present. Overall, the sounds of The New Abnormal resonate and it’s impossible to ignore the musical development and production that has taken place.
The New Abnormal has proven a truly valuable addition to The Strokes’ musical collective. Their highly anticipated and long-awaited 6th album has tactfully displayed the gradual development of the band’s sound and also proved Casablancas to be a genuinely successful lyricist as well as renowned riff writer.
Listen to The New Abnormal here: