The Strokes, the NYC band started in 1998, has returned with a new single that has routinely been greeted with surprise by a music press anxious on convincing the public that this veteran group is as close to self-implosion as it ever has been. Hype aside, the Strokes continue to zig-zag through computerized flourishes and New York style-rock. Who saw this happen? We all did, really.
All style, all substance
The Strokes looked old before they even started. No other retro-rock group had received the hype machine push quite as the New Yorkers did by the time of their debut album Is This It. While a minority critics may have decried an over-emphasis on style and their dependency on feeding the hype machine top dollar, which the group member’s families were allegedly happy to be doing, the album stands as a modern-day classic. More so, it proved that great style can morph into substance in the world of adrenaline needing rock n’ roll.
By the time of their second album, Room on fire, the music press was eager to cement the idea that the Strokes was a band destined to split up fast, in a glorious blaze. Like Television. Like the Velvet Underground. Like most of the New York City bands that they were mining for ideas.
Is This It? and beyond
More than two decades into their career, the band’s PR department is still shopping the idea around. For their credit, the Strokes haven’t bought into their own press, have remained active on a nearly permanent basis.
Their activity has been interrupted only by side-projects, the most notable of which have been those by singer Julian Casablancas and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. Both solo endeavors have shown the men to be excellent fans, taking the eccentricities of great artists and expertly gluing them back together into their own music.
Fear no indie disco!
Those eccentricities are the place where new single At the Door begins. Say what you will about the Strokes, but plagiarizing themselves into nostalgia touring is not what they are doing here.
Instead, the core song sounds like a demo circa First Impressions of Earth. And, while Casablancas’ prints are all over the song, the rest of the group seems content to hide in the background. It’s slick in the way that a group of ubercool, drunken NYC kids might try to sound while fumbling around a rehearsal space at the turn of the century. And, while the Strokes have never been shy about taking ideas, at least they do it effortlessly and plunder from artists that are truly worth stealing from.
The Strokes, someday and today
Their last release was 2016’s Future Present Past a delightfully short and quirky EP, which few fans wanted or indeed got, but which, one reckons, represented one more step in the Strokes’ masterplan of crafting their detached vision.
The Strokes are a bunch of cool dudes. Hell, they were assembled as a band for these qualities most of all. Years into their career they remain just that and, most importantly, even at their least inspired, do not sound tedious at all, a fate that has befallen the majority of the graduates of the class of 2001.