So The Strokes are back in the studio and one has to wonder why? They have all made a fairly sizable amount of cash (though I know that doesn’t constitute happiness, my little Dali Lamas), they are all well-respected and regarded by many as an archetypal band who changed pop culture, none of them have died yet due to addiction – so what’s there to gain from another album?
Ever since the tricky second album syndrome hit firmly home with the release of the 7/10 Room On Fire the follow-up to the near perfect Is This It? in the early noughties, it has been an inside joke that each Strokes Album has got progressively worse. 2013’s Comedown Machine is the only possible exception – and not by much.
Unsure whether to stick or twist with their aesthetic and sonic-style, they often find themselves in the mire of mediocrity. If you were a band that changed the landscape of modern music for a time, that shit has gotta hurt, right?
So when we heard the news that The Strokes were back in the studio to record a 6th album we weren’t too surprised. They are desperately trying to stop the rot and ride off in to the sunset with a gratifying smile and another dollop of dollar in their accounts.
The announcement came during a headline show for the band amidst a very busy year for all members. With dates at BST Hyde Park , Casablancas work with The Voidz and AHJ’s recent album, the only real surprise is that they have managed to fit any studio time in.
With regards to new music the options are well and truly open for the band. They have enough authority to move the new album in whatever musical meandering they like. They could push the electro-punk sound The Voidz have been spurting in our ears or touch across the modern American-folk that AHJ has added a disco beat to in his new album. Either way, they need to do it whole-heartedly and not try to tread too many paths at once. Something which has previously failed them.
As damning as that might sound, I, like most of the population my age, will always have a special place for The Strokes – they scored many of the exploits of my youth with aplomb and effortless cool. Each subsequent album may have moved away from me musically but each album always had a stand out hit and each album always touched base with the original crowd – if only for a track or two. It’s this dedication of these fans which has kept them going for so long. They influenced people so intently and irrevocably they could likely sell shows and records for the rest of their lives.
I wonder though, whether the new generation picking up The Strokes newest album will be as enthralled and amazed as I was when first listening to Is This It? Whether they will be as dazzled by a leather jacket and nonchalance to knowing how cool they were. Whether that swagger still marauds the album and the songs enough to gain more followers. Sadly, I doubt it.
The Strokes look like they might continue making tracks but it’s likely they won’t be hitting the same notes. What will the new album entail, more of the same or a completely new direction for the band? One suspects the former but also that, for some people, it won’t matter a damn bit.