Carter’s Record Reviews: ‘New Abnormal’ by The Strokes does not disappoint


Image used with permission from Wikimedia Commons

A collage of The Strokes live shows between 2019-2020. From left to right – singer Julian Casablancas; guitarist Nick Valensi; bassist Nikolai Fraiture; guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.; drummer Fabrizio Moretti.

New York City post-punk and indie rock band, The Strokes, has finally broken a seven-year drought of no releases with “The New Abnormal.” Working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, the album record was released on Apr. 10. The album was nominated for Best Rock Album at this year’s Grammy Awards show. 

On the new record, the band integrates songs with a synth-driven melody, adding a vintage quality. “‘The New Abnormal’ still manages to find a fresh, albeit more low-key, way into the woozy late-night grandeur they’ve always been so skilled at evoking,” Rolling Stone said in a review of the album.

The record opens with “The Adults are Talking”’ one of my favorite tracks on the record. Its blend of Albert Hammond and Nick Valensi’s guitar tracks with the synth leads, along with singer Julian Casablacas’ impeccable vocals make for an instant classic. It is definitely one of my essential songs of 2020 overall, as it manages to fulfill all of the greatest instrumental and vocal strengths of the record. The early momentum in the album leads into ‘Bad Decisions,’ a captivating track interlaced with themes of mischief and nostalgia. 

At the midpoint of the record, the cut “Eternal Summer” remains an underrated gem of the album, with Casablancas reflecting on the curious nature of life. This song also displays another strong point of the album, which is the absolutely amazing production quality. This is unsurprising though, as Rubin is a revered and experienced music producer. 

However, there are some criticisms I would give this record. Firstly, it leaves more to be desired artistically, seemingly vague in its instrumentation. This results from the variety in sounds that the band experiments with, but are sparing in their use. Additionally, it feels formulaic at times due to the abundance of hook-driven tracks, which can be repetitive, however this is only minor, and does not make the album unoriginal. 

The album ends off with further high points “At the Door” and “Not the Same Anymore”. “At the Door” is a diversion from the previous sound of the band, a keyboard-based track that is lyrically introspective, helping the audience to connect with the feelings of isolation and loneliness that it evokes. “Not the Same Anymore” reflects on a person who has become seemingly estranged from the songwriter. 

Overall, “The New Abnormal” is yet another fantastic venture into music by The Strokes. The album manages to pack in sentimental ballads and also more traditional elements of rock that The Strokes have become known for. It is definitely one of the best records of 2020, and it portrays that the band still has the vitality to create new music, after their nearly 20-year run. I give this album an 8 out of 10, as I consider it one of the band’s better releases, but not their top release ever.