The Strokes “The New Abnormal” is Full of 80s Nostalgia

The Strokes in concert in 2015
The Strokes in concert in 2015. Photo by Laura Lewis/REX/Shutterstock (4867786ab)

The New Abnormal is The Strokes’ first album in seven years. They pick up exactly where they left off, reeling in fun 80’s nostalgia.

The album’s opener “The Adults Are Talking” is an upbeat introduction. The guitars are as playful as ever and yet Julian Casablancas sounds slightly defeated. It’s a little difficult to pick out the lyrics and yet the song has enough hooks to warrant repeat listening. It’s the guitar melodies that you’ll be singing along to rather than the words.

“Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus” is a throwback 80s pop anthem. It plays with synths in a way that Tame Impala have been leaning towards of late. Casablancas quips: “And the Eighties bands, where did they go?” It’s this playful albeit depressing nostalgia that trickles through the album. In the chorus, he claims: ” I want new friends, but they don’t want me / They’re making plans while I watch TV / Thought it was them, but maybe it’s me / I want new friends, but they don’t want me.” Is this another great indie band looking back to the good old days when everyone wanted to be their friend?

Yes, and no. Although there is a nostalgic tone to the album, it is more of a celebration of new wave through the decades. In “Bad Decisions” Casablanca looks back to a time before he was born, hinting that the nostalgia is more than a personal longing. To the tune of “Dancing With Myself”, Casablanca looks back at Moscow in the 70s and drones “Oh, making bad decisions.”

“Why Are Sunday’s So Depressing” is another strange drone about how The Strokes reckon nobody likes them. “All my friends left, and they don’t miss me,” Casablanca sings. What makes this whining palatable is the strong melodies that carry not just this song in particular, but the entire album. Whatever Casablanca is singing, it’s hard not to feel like you are having a good time while listening to it.

Although The New Abnormal is not up to the standards of their breakthrough album, Is This It, it is certainly up there with the best of The Strokes. It’s a solid indie album and during these abnormal times, The New Abnormal is exactly what are depressing Sunday afternoon needs.