Comebacks are always exciting, but they almost never go as planned.
Julian Casablancas wanted something like Michael Jordan’s first un-retirement — an epic, world-shattering announcement that led to years of acclaim and success.
“The 2010s, whatever the f*** they’re called, we took ‘em off,” Casablancas told a slam-packed Brooklyn crowd on New Year’s Eve. “And now we’ve been unfrozen and we’re back.”
But just as The Strokes unfroze, the rest of the world was icing over. Instead of Jordan’s first comeback, the band got something much more like the second — sloppy, anticlimactic and hampered by setbacks.
The plan was simple: Drop an album; launch a globe-spanning festival tour; take over the world (again). In the end, the universe had other plans, and The New Abnormal, the group’s first album in seven years, fell into a world on lockdown.
Music, like everything in our current moment, is drastically changing. Coachella is delayed, artists are delaying their albums and venues are struggling to stay open. But last Friday, The Strokes’ comeback arrived all the same — and maybe that’s for the best.
The New Abnormal is comfortable. The album, immaculately produced by Rick Rubin, is familiar, safe and, most importantly, a damn good time.
It’s a nostalgic record, one that arrives in a time when The Strokes — intensified by their fervent support for Bernie Sanders and deified by their role in Lizzy Goodman’s era-defining book, Meet Me In The Bathroom — are almost as beloved as they’ve ever been.
And the band capitalized on that fact. The New Abnormal sounds like it’s looking backward at the good old days, with just enough new bells and whistles to keep fans entertained. It’s also a charmingly short album, packed neatly into nine songs that are surprisingly consistent for a group that claims they just took an entire decade “off.”
There are anthems (“Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus,” “Bad Decisions”), crooning mood-setters (“Eternal Summer,” “Not The Same Anymore”) and “Ode To The Mets,” which serves as a touching, oddly prescient coda to a mid-quarantine record
An album doesn’t have to be perfect, or even great, to be powerful. It can still embody something — a time; a feeling; in this case both — without doing anything profound or revolutionary or extraordinary. The New Abnormal is an old friend, and that’s probably something everyone could use right now.
The *also* most important
That Future line is back: “King’s Dead,” the song was supposed to get popular for being in a Marvel movie but actually got popular for a very specific line. Future’s infamous contribution from the song (come on, you know the one), has resurfaced on TikTok and is also now the most popular lyric on Genius — despite the track being more than two years old.
Ticketmaster is gonna Ticketmaster: The music industry’s favorite villain is up to its old tricks again. As Digital Music News pointed out this week, the ticket distributor has changed its refund policy to only include cancellations — a move that could greatly harm concertgoers afraid of keeping post-pandemic plans.
Big bops, new tunes
Phoebe Bridgers has been to Japan, please take note: Phoebe Bridgers is back with an exhilarating new single, “Kyoto,” along with a ’90s karaoke-themed video.
Social media flex of the week
13 years, 100,000 unanswered questions: Since people are getting out a lot less these days, this week is a throwback. This Soulja Boy and Natalie Portman photo from 2007 may be iconic, but there’s still a lot about this friendship that the world wants to know.