The Strokes - The New Abnormal (Vinyl)

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The New Abnormal is the sixth studio album by American band The Strokes, released on April 10, 2020, through Cult and RCA Records. It was their first album in seven years, following Comedown Machine (2013), and their first release since the Future Present Past EP in 2016.
The album was produced by Rick Rubin and recorded at his Shangri-La studio in Malibu, California. The Strokes began performing songs from the album for the first time at different shows in 2019, before revealing the album's track list and cover art in early 2020. The songs “At The Door”, “Bad Decisions” and “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” were released as singles prior to the album's release.The New Abnormal received positive reviews from critics, many of whom considered it a return to form. Praise was particularly directed towards the maturity of Casablancas' lyrics, thought to refer to his divorce from Juliet Joslin, and the band's improved sense of musical cohesion.
Writing sessions for The New Abnormal dated as far back as 2016, following the release of the band's extended play from the same year.
Writers have also considered the album as having elements of 1980s pop music, glam rock and dream pop. The album houses the same style of dueling guitar riffs heard on the Strokes' previous albums. Harrison Screen of Vinyl Chapters found that it also carries on the tradition of the band blending "a vintage feel into modern-day," adding that "these songs are straight from the seventies." Reviewers found that the second half of the album has a much slower pace and is more dedicated to ballads. The album also includes a series of outtakes of studio chatter interspersed throughout the album.
The cover art for The New Abnormal features the 1981 painting Bird on Money by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The album's title was inspired by a quote made by former California governor Jerry Brown in November 2018 in the midst of the California wildfires. Brown had responded to the emergency events being labeled "the new normal" by instead calling them "the new abnormal".


Though everything is relative, The New Abnormal is easily the least Strokes album The Strokes have made. Undoubtedly due, in large part, to Julian Casablancas' restructuring under The Voidz, the band's sixth album ventures out from compact Post-Punk revival to expansile Indie Rock. The change is minor, but noticeable, as the arrangements are more grand, challenging, and lachrymose. It's an elegant and admirable transition, but one that rarely impresses for Casablancas stature hasn't changed one bit. Better than Comedown Machine? Absolutely. Angles? By all accounts, yes. Anything earlier than that? I can confidently say no.

Once again, the issue arises in consistency. Or, as we know with The Strokes, lack thereof. Unlike past albums where clear-cut hits were prescribed as singles, before the inevitable letdown of deep cuts, The New Abnormal's bag is more mixed. After a seven-year hiatus, 'At The Door's' introductory sound presented something clunky and unattractive, with cold Progressive Electronic keyboard loops and a sparse background that compliments naught with that overt fart of a noise. If not for a rather auspicious finale, 'At The Door' would've been no better than any misguided, Synthpop deep cut on their aforementioned duds. It's arguably the worst song here, though 'Eternal Summer' (for the same reasons) and 'Not The Same Anymore' (for others) each have a say in the matter. Even 'Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus,' New Abnormal's third single, doesn't strike a chord, though the upbeat synthesizers and Casablancas' impassioned hook help stave off repression. Like 'At The Door,' the final moments are its best.

Speaking of best, The New Abnormal does have merit in regards to its praise. Two moments in particular, 'The Adults Are Talking' and 'Bad Decisions,' are legitimately great. As an opening scene-setter, 'Adults Are Talking' does an excellent job nimbly maneuvering The Strokes' new sound without going overboard. It's subtle, features some of Casablancas' best lyrics to date, and never dawdles despite the five-minute duration. An eternity for The Strokes, circa any year before 2020. Then there's 'Bad Decisions,' which is by far the best, though I struggle to cede sole credit to The Strokes as it's clearly a New Order knockoff. They've done it before but essentially perfected the mold here, as the teenage sentimentality pours from 'Bad Decisions'' guitar riff and Casablancas' sappy (in a good way) lyrics. Unlike much of New Abnormal, which saved satisfaction for each song's respective credit sequence, 'Bad Decisions' relished in such acute fanfare. To say I'm disappointed with the LP overall would be an overstatement, as I've never expected anything more from The Strokes. Their hit machines, and here that show that to be true.

By: Dozensofdonuts.

A1 The Adults Are Talking
A2 Selfless
A3 Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus
A4 Bad Decisions
A5 Eternal Summer
B6 At The Door
B7 Why Are Sundays So Depressing
B8 Not The Same Anymore
B9 Ode To The Mets

Packaged in a PVC sleeve which lies within shrink-wrap.
Includes a custom inner sleeve, a foldout poster, and a download card.
Track numbering is sequential across sides.
Recorded at Shangri-La Studios - Malibu, CA.
Cover painting "Bird On Money" 1981
Artwork © estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, licensed by Artestar, New York.