Comeback Machine: The Strokes Should Just Stop Making New Music

Comeback Machine: The Strokes Should Just Stop Making New Music

Can their new material ever truly live up to past glories...?

It’s been three long years since The Strokes released any kind of new material.

The ‘Future Past Present’ EP - released via Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ own Cult Records - was said to be a journey across the legendary career of the godfathers of Millennial indie rock, with each song of the three-track collection supposedly representing a different sound from the band’s seminal career. ‘Threat Of Joy’ was the past, ‘OBLIVIUS’ was the present and ‘Drag Queen’ is the future.

Not that we’d know that, of course. You see, it’s been doubly long since the band released their last full-length album, with 2013’s ‘Comedown Machine’ being released to lukewarm reviews from fans and critics alike.

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Rumours of The Strokes releasing a new album have been circulating for years, with various members of the band (and their management) either teasing it in interviews, or subsequently debunking what one of their bandmates (or management) said in a follow-on interview.

Recently, however, it was reported that The Strokes had actually finished recording their long-awaited sixth full-length album and are now waiting for it to be mixed, to the surprise of pretty much anyone who heard ‘Is This It’. Guitarist Nick Valensi neither confirmed or denied these reports, instead opting to play coy during a radio interview with Out Of The Box, before suggesting to the host that the fabled sixth Strokes album is indeed “a strong likelihood”.

This is fine, and it’s actually heart-warming to see that a band whose members were once so addled by inner-conflicts, demons, and personal issues can still stand to be in the same room as one another. But: is a new album from The Strokes really, truly necessary?

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Sure, it’d be nice to have one more record with the band’s logo printed on the cover to add to our collections; but six years since the release of their last full-length album, the boys seem to have really found their individual rejuvenations as parts of their own solo projects whilst treating The Strokes as a “let’s get together and play a gig every now and then” friendship pact, and they seem to be really enjoying it. What does a new Strokes album seek to achieve within the band’s discography? What new ground is there left to cover? 

Judging by their recent performance of a ‘new song’ - supposedly titled ‘The Adults Are Talking’ - during a recent show in Los Angeles, the answer to that question is: none. ‘The Adults Are Talking’ sounds like it would be perfectly at home on their last full-length release ‘Comedown Machine’, which sort of sinks the whole thematic ideology of the ‘Future Past Present’ EP.

Why are The Strokes, who have so recently made themselves known to be quite musically progressive, making music in 2019 that sounds like it’s from 2013? Why is their then-Present their current now? What exactly does that achieve other than disappointment? This feeling is particularly potent when the music you hear from bands like The Voidz (Casablancas’ band) and CRX (Valensi’s band) are so immediately separated from that sound.

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This isn’t an appeal for The Strokes to go back and scrape up whatever they left on the cutting room floor from their ‘Is This It?’ and ‘Room On Fire’ glory days as has been begged for by some fans for some time, but an appeal for The Strokes to either put the effort into making a new album, or to just not bother releasing a new album at all.

If there’s nothing new to offer, it’s perfectly fine to just not release anything. Hell, it would have been perfectly fine if The Strokes bowed out after ‘Angles’ and just played the odd concert every now and then, because unlike 'Comedown Machine' - which received a similarly mixed reception - ‘Angles’ actually had a couple of memorable songs in ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ and ‘Taken For A Fool’.

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There have been too many bands in recent years that were once considered absolutely legendary that have overstayed their welcome and continue to flog the same dead horse to the point that they have become a veritable shell of their former selves (looking at you, Weezer) and frankly, it would be sad to see such an iconic band who are so deeply ingrained in early-2000’s indie rock culture to go the same way.

Of course, we could be completely wrong and when The Strokes eventually do release their new album, it could be absolutely incredible. We just don’t think that’s going to be the case going by the band’s turbulent journey through the Tens thus far. However, it’s always nice to be proven wrong, especially by your favourite band.

So, over to you, Strokes... Prove us wrong.

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Words: R.A. Hagan // @RAHagan_
Photography: Rachel Lipsitz

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