Review: The New Abnormal was worth the seven year wait


Marie Lindsey , Arts Editor

The american garage rock revivalist group The Strokes have returned with their sixth studio album The New Abnormal. The album was released with Cult and RCA Records on April 10, 2020. The Strokes have been silent for a four year hiatus after the release of their EP Future Present Past in 2016. This is the first full album they have released since 2013, the fateful year that birthed Comedown Machine

The New Abnormal explores simple pains, daily pleasures, politics, love, addiction, violence, forgiveness, growth, and the commercial influence upon musical creation. 

The Strokes chose to use the artwork of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat as the album cover. Basquiat’s piece “Bird on Money” was painted in tribute to jazz horn player Charlie Bird Parker. Basquiat first gained recognition and admiration as a part of an informal graffiti duo SAMO in the 1970s. During the 1980s, his neo-expressionist paintings were internationally exhibited. 

Although the members of the “The Strokes” have been radio silent they haven’t been wasting time. Lead singer and primary songwriter Julian Casablancas formed The Voidz. Lead rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist, and mellotran player Nick Valensi founded side project CRX. Valensi has also worked as a songwriter and session guitarist with dozens of artists, including Sia, Regina Spektor, and Blondie. 

Drummer Fabrigio Moretti is a member of Brazilian and American rock supergroup Little Joy. On the side, Fabrigio is an art dealer and creator. His paintings are spectacular forms of scattered multi-colored ovals. Bassist Nikolai Frauture is the frontman of Summer Moon and has created a solo project called Nickel Eye. Guitarist, producer, and songwriter Albert Hammond Junior pursued a simultaneous solo career as a psychedellic pop singer-songwriter. 

The New Abnormal begins with an accusation of “overeducation” and “sophistication” in The Adults Are Talking. Casablancas mumbles in perfect melody about the struggle to hold onto their indie punk skleton with jet black scuffed nail polish in the face of the crisply ironed stockholders he calls out toward the end of the song. 

Selfless is a serenade to love, pain, and recovery. The song begins with a reference to the transformation that comes from questioning, “can the dark side light my way out?” 

Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus proclaims that the greatest lesson one can learn, is “the deeper I get, the less that I know.” 

Bad Decisions opens up with the words “dropped down the lights, I’m sitting with you, Moscow, 1972” shifting into the repeated proclamation of a pile of “bad decisions.” The song refers to a 

treasured memory, a repeated harm, a treasured lover, and the violence that our country repeats, again and again, like the chorus of the song. 

Eternal Summer paints an image of psychedellic escapism in delusion, infatuation, nature, and avoidance. 

At The Door is a whispers and a wail, an ode to addiction and discouragement. The piece begins with jarring simple chord progressions before swiftly growing to operatic harmonies from a lovely little synthesizer. Like the bang at the door, the chords break through the harmonies periodically throughout the song. 

Why Are Sundays So Depressing discusses finding new hunger to create music while also mentioning reconcilation and love within the band. As the song fades out, Casablancas says to Moretti “the click was always in you, Fab.” 

Not The Same Anymore slips in a few carnal urges into suburbia, referencing violent nature at the home of an uncle. This song projects a sense of weathered awareness with the words “you’re not the same anymore… you’d make a better window than a door.” Ode To The Mets finishes off the album with a healthy amount of self mockery. 

The New Abnormal is a lovely haze of self reflection heralded in by technical thundering guitar, sensuous straining vocals, and rolling waves of percussion. The album has become a vessel for strength, recovery, complaint, and discovery potent with the interwoven commentary of the everyday or the transcendental fixations alike of The Strokes. Take a moment, light a candle, and pop in your headphones. Take some time to taste this record while stuck indoors this week, it’s been well worth the wait.