That’s really all we really feel about The Strokes’ new album.
Or maybe meh.
Perhaps a shrug?
“The New Abnormal” is definitely not bad. Not in the slightest.
It’s just not great, especially when you compare it to the band’s previous works. It doesn’t pump listeners up, but to be fair it doesn’t seem like it’s really meant to.
If anything, “The New Abnormal” is background music. If that’s what The Strokes meant to do, then it’s awesome. But if it’s not, then yikes.
Songs that are worth listening to more than once are few and far between. And the reason they are repeatable is that they remind listeners of the sound The Strokes popularized in the early 2000s.
To be fair, balancing the new and the old is difficult, especially when it’s a sound as iconic as The Strokes. But if they didn’t want to bring up the old, if they just wanted to focus on the new, that’s what they should have done. They should have dived headfirst into that new sound. Fans would have gotten used to it.
But they didn’t do that. They dangled just enough of the old in front of fans to make them hope they might get some sort of nostalgic high. But upon closer inspection, it’s not enough to bring any sort of satisfaction.
“Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus” is the moment in the album when we think, “oh, so this is where it gets good.” But that energy is fleeting.
“Bad Decisions” and “Endless Summer” both give listeners something to groove to. The placement of the tracks near the beginning of the record gives fans a glimpse into what could have been.
The whole album has the energy of The Killers’ album “Hot Fuss” without being the Killers. And it doesn’t really feel like The Strokes either.
Lead singer Julian Casablancas said the band had been unfrozen from their seven-year hiatus for this record. But was it worth it, really?
This record leaves audiences adrift. We’re not frozen in time but we’re not really moving forward either. We just feel like we’re stagnating.
And during a time where we’re all staying home and kind of have no choice but to be stagnant, that sucks.
Artists keep pushing their release dates because of quarantine, so it’s always exciting when there’s something new. But the mediocrity of “The New Abnormal” lets us down so hard we wonder if it should have been left in the drafts for a little while longer.
The real question for listeners is if mediocrity is enough for them. And if it’s not, will fans be forced to listen to the new music of their old favorites because of loyalty? Or will they let them go?