New album review: The Strokes – The New Abnormal
It’s quite something to sound as insouciant as The Strokes often do, yet so animated, especially 20 years after they exploded onto the scene as privileged pretty boys. Their sixth album at times appears to have been recorded because they were dragged out of bed after a heavy bender, its guitars strummed with devil-may-care abandon, its pacing slothful, its lyrics – at best enigmatic, though the less charitable might call them gibberish – delivered from beneath a duvet. At other times, however, it’s totally wired, singer Julian Casablancas wailing and roaring, his melodies sticky like resin, his band’s arrangements trimmed like a poodle’s coat.
They’re recognisable from the start, with The Adults Are Talking’s riffage as tight and airy as Aertex briefs and Casablancas – perhaps consequently – displaying an impressively restrained falsetto, the song’s closing reminders of Television a reminder of the discipline required to keep things this deceptively straightforward. Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus delivers a jumble of jangling, sometimes spiky, sometimes phased, guitars, and Bad Decisions is as catchy as its lyrics are nonsensical, maybe because it sounds a great deal like Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself – Idol even gets a writing credit – with a bit of Modern English thrown in. The Strokes have still got ‘it’.