Album Review: The Strokes Return to Their Garage Rock Roots on “The New Abnormal”


The Strokes released their latest album, The New Abnormal with a seven-year gap between their previous release. It was not their first hiatus, and once they finish touring, each bandmate has an independent musical project to return to. Through what was likely a scheduling odyssey for their managers, The Strokes pulled together a garage-rock album reflecting on the roots that rose them to prominence during a similar time of uncertainty.

The Strokes landmark first album, Is This It received wide acclaim and rocketed them to a new stratosphere of visibility. While released in the U.K. in August of 2001, the U.S. release was delayed to October of that year due to the September 11 attacks, which gave the band time to remove the protest song “New York City Cops” from their debut album in light of the new environment. Nearly twenty years later, The New Abnormal lands amidst another national state of emergency. During their latest work together, The Strokes return to the form that they are remembered for and offer a nostalgic update.

For the bandmates of The Stokes, each has his own side project to experiment with their musical talents. When coming back together as The Stokes, they return to the beat their fans know them for, one that intertwines their influences from the British punk of the ’80s and the American grunge of the ’90s. While nearly two decades older than when they first came together, their slacker-rock cadence retains its gusto. The Strokes are known for their casual rebellion outlook, belting frustrations from personal life with an echo of political protest in the background. There is a little bit of synth in the newer album, but mostly The New Abnormal harks back to the nostalgic beats of the ‘80s and ‘90s those born near the millennium can’t get enough of.

The Stokes will always hold a position of prominence in indie rock history. They arrived after bands like Green Day paved the way for garage rock to enter the mainstream and caught their appeal as a laid-back alternative to the full-tilt style of bands like Sum 41. As today’s mainstream looks for comfort and solace in a time of uncertainty, the nostalgic The New Abnormal is rather appropriate for a time when absurdity is every day.


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