Album of the Week

The Strokes – The New Abnormal

By: Justin Spiegel | Top Tracks: The Adults Are Talking, Bad Decisions

The Strokes of course were a touchstone of early 2000s garage revival. Known for their wiry guitar riffs laden in feedback, they were pretty much the outfit of millennial angst at the time. Their debut album, Is This It (2001), captured an exceedingly common feeling, albeit with a rare, precious sort of success. Hits like “Last Nite” and “Barely Legal” helped lend an anthem to what was then a burgeoning unease among the millennial demographic—the sort of isolation that came hand-in-hand with days upon days of objectless fun. The Strokes managed to speak loudly and fondly to a stilted and stranded post-911 adolescence.

All the Strokes-loving teenagers of the era have since grown up, leaving behind those formative years like an untidy room. I can only assume that today’s shriveled economy has a lot of these fans wishing they could go back to the early 2000s, when things were simpler—or at least when they didn’t seem so irretrievably complex. I’ll confess I’m a bit too young to be part of this original demographic—I was born in 1998, being hardly three years old when Is This It hit the market—but at the same time, I’m far too old not to have at least heard of The Strokes. I had given Is This It a few listens some years ago, so it was with mild curiosity that I approached their latest album, The New Abnormal (2020), released this month. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, seeing as the band had fallen off both commercially and critically following their second album.

As soon as it was over, I listened again. I recommend others give it a try, too. It’s got a sort of soft-spoken, subtle mastery to it, at once faithful to their old ethos and weathered by all the intervening years. And the timing, moreover, is perfect—Gen Z could use an escape, too.




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