By: Danielle Tierney/ Junior Writer
It is very obvious to all of us that 2020 was a not so good year. However, artistically, I can say that there were many albums that had a lot of innovation and influence. Difficult and interesting times provide for some of the best artistic environments. Personally, there is really only one album of early 2020 that I am still listening to and probably will for many years. If you have read my bio at all, it’s no surprise to you that I love The Strokes. Which makes it an even less surprise that my album of 2020 is The New Abnormal by The Strokes.
From their extremely influential debut of the early 2000s Is This It to their newest album, The Strokes have undergone a lot of change. It is extremely hard for a band that was popular 20 years ago to stay relevant, but this album just proves their talent and their ability to reinvent their sound in a way that people will continue to recognize it.
The overall tone of The New Abnormal is brilliantly magical and nostalgic. They bring together many different sounds to create strong feelings and ideas expressed in the album. And for people like me who love The Strokes, it still has their signature sound to it. Though the album only has nine songs, every one is unique and has its own experience and flow of emotion. The expression and the art of the songs and lyrics is unlike any album I’ve listened to before. Every song feels perfectly crafted and it encapsulates the listener within its own little world.
The first song of the album was created during a jam session. You might have heard “The Adults Are Talking” on the radio somewhere. The songs melody is so catchy that it almost mimics the feeling of a song being stuck in your head. It doesn’t follow the rules of normal songs (which to be honest most of the songs on this record don’t) but that is definitely one of it’s strong points to be able to break the mold and do it affectively. Another creative aspect I really like is that it almost seems as if the guitar parts compliment each other in a way that seems like they are talking. Overall, it is so fun and enjoyable that I don’t think you couldn’t like it.
The next song “Selfless” is a dreamy love song. The vocals and lyricism on this track are so extraordinary. I usually don’t appreciate love songs that much, but it’s really hard not to listen to this track and feel something. The way that it builds, the pain in his voice, the dreamy guitar… There is just so much to appreciate on this song, so give it a listen.
This next song I could go on all day about. One of my favorite songs of all time and the song that ultimately got me into The Strokes is the song “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus.” Despite this song being released as a single in April, I could still listen to it over and over and not love it any less. It has beautiful guitar parts and a sort of melancholy feel. There’s lyrics and nostalgia of the 80s on this track as well that makes it so unique and just a fun and different atmosphere. There’s a little guitar solo, if you’re into that, and the ending breaks traditional song rules and is one of the reasons why the song is so great to me. The lyrics and the vocals just really put an end to such a fantastic song.
“The deeper I get, the less that I know
That’s the way that it goes
The less that I know, the deeper I go
Juliet, I adore“
I have heard the next song “Bad Decisions” so many times on the radio, so I’ll be surprised if you have not heard it yet. During the writing process, the song accidently ended up as a tribute to Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself. There are many similarities to that song, but at the same time it remains different and has parts unique to itself. The actual chorus itself is unique and has many qualities that make it excellent. 80s nostalgia is also featured on this track and it really brings the whole song to life. It is worth listening to because it has contrasting parts that work so well together and it has fun parts that make you want to dance like its the 80s.
Another stand out song on the record is “Eternal Summer,” though Anthony Fantano would disagree with me. The way this song is crafted so meticulously to feel in a way like it goes on forever is so amazing to me. Not only are the vocals just beautiful, but there are some vocals on this track that act as a percussive hook. Vocals acting like percussion, how cool is that? This song feels like you are are stuck in a never-ending psychedelic dream in the best way possible. The guitar on this song is also very beautiful and affective so I really recommend giving this one a listen.
“At The Door” is a dark and melancholic song that stands out from the other songs on this record in a great way. Facing ideas like the concept of death, it is strong and powerful and the lyrics perfectly compliment and bring life to those ideas. You may think there are synthesizers in this song, but surprise, it’s actually a guitar that sounds like a synthesizer. It flows effortlessly and it’s going to make you feel like you have ascended into a whole different dimension entirely. The music video for this song is also a piece of art that really expresses the song, so check that out as well.
“I can’t escape it
I’m never gonna make it out of this in time
I guess that’s just fine
I’m not there quite yet
My thoughts, such a mess”
The next song is titled “Why Sundays Are So Depressing.” Despite having depressing in the title, it is actually a pretty chill and enjoyable song. It’s not the type or overwhelm with a lot of different sounds, but rather just a nice guitar and beat to soothe your soul with cute lyrics along the way. After listening to At The Door, you might be a little overwhelmed and scared so it makes sense they put this song next.
“Not The Same Anymore” is the next song. It has its own melancholic feel different from the songs At The Door and Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus. It doesn’t follow traditional song rules and it progresses very differently. But the way that it deviates is extremely rewarding and makes it unique. It has a dreamy and dark feeling with amazing instrumentals. You will experience new emotion listening to this song.
The closing song to this magnificent album is called “Ode To The Mets.” It may be weird to listen to at first but I promise it will grow on you. This song is also a different kind of sad and melancholic. If you are familiar with the Mets, you know that they haven’t had too many good seasons in a long time. This song is about that feeling or idea of trying something and failing over and over again. It breaks traditional song rules in the most beautiful way and the vocals and guitar encapsulate its sadness and hopelessness in a beautiful way as well.
The Strokes will always be special to me and have a place in my heart. This album still has many signature sounds and guitar from them, but there’s also so much new ideas that they played with not only with the music itself, like using vocals as percussion, but with their own style. The New Abnormal is a new creative side of The Strokes that I have loved experiencing and listening to, and I think you will as well. It’s so hard to be unique and come up with ideas that completely break the mold of standard music, and it’s even harder to do this in the extraordinary way that The Strokes demonstrate with this album. This is my album of the year.