The Strokes can’t revive the ’ 80s


The late April weekend of Indio, California’s famed music festival was graced with the buzz band of the decade. The Strokes had just released their debut album, “Is This It.” They were set to play Coachella’s main stage on Sunday. Beside bands like Oasis, The Strokes got their first taste of rock stardom. 

During the early half of the 2000s, The Brooklyn band was at the forefront of reviving rock ‘n’ roll—the leaders of a movement that would earn them legacy status. This time, The Strokes failed to revive their career as a revival band and their comeback album, “The New Abnormal” ended up sounding like the morning after a night of cocaine and binge drinking. 

Many of the songs on “The New Abnormal” feel incredibly disjointed. Tracks like “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” start over so many times until it sounds like they finally gave up. Not to mention, Casablancas’ plead of “the ’80s bands, where did they go?” is a bit dated at this point. 

Some moments on the album successfully capture the band’s former glory. In true Strokes fashion, the opening track, “The Adults Are Talking,” features a steady buildup to an explosive chorus. 

“Eternal Summer” is another thrilling moment, until you realize that it’s actually “The Ghost In You” by Psychedelic Furs. In fact, many of the tracks on the album sound like Casablancas summoning the ‘80s, like “Bad Decisions” which sounds reminiscent of a Billy Idol song. 

It isn’t until the end of the album that we hear “Ode to the Mets” and it sounds like everything fell into place. The song is a beautiful, shimmering highlight, but nevertheless an odd finale to an album so flashy. 

Somewhere between their prime and now, The Strokes lost an entire decade. Frontman Julian Casablancas spent the 2010s pouring his soul into the weird, proggy experiment that was The Voidz. But their fans never abandoned them. In fact, they remained loyal as  The Strokes headlined festivals and tossed them bones. 

“The New Abnormal” makes it clear that The Strokes aren’t quite ready to fade away, but are still too uninspired for a proper comeback. Unfortunately, the spark they had managed to keep alive feels like it’s finally been stomped out. 

Kati Morris can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @daysofkati.