It almost feels like this is the second comeback we have seen from The Strokes since they first emerged at the start of the century. It was during the first four years of their recording career that we were treated to 'Is This Is', 'Room On Fire' and 'First Impressions Of Earth', a wonderfully well-rounded string of releases that not only cemented their legacy, but showed a distinct progression in direction throughout. But after disappearing for six years, we then had to endure 'Angles' and 'Comedown Machine' in quick succession, a pairing that seemed to undo a lot of promise from their earlier days. So here we are once again, seven years in the wilderness, returning with 'The New Abnormal' and hoping that this new collection brings them back to their a-game.
The main take away from this new release is just how much producer Rick Rubin has worked them throughout. The producer is a known perfectionist and hearing the band sound tighter and more alert than they have in recent years is certainly a warm sign that things may be turning around for The Strokes on this return. Yet despite its sparkling sound, it is clear that frontman Julian Casablancas is keen to assure fans that the old band are still here as he lazily croons his way through a wave of electronically-enhanced additions that look to show a glimmer of forward-thinking intentions that just don't quite gel as well as they should.
It will always be hard for The Strokes to move away from their incredibly engaging formative sound, but on 'The New Abnormal' it feels like they are trying a bit too hard to separate themselves from it, resulting in a jumbled collection that at times feels rudderless in its direction. It may not be the full and solid comeback we were hoping for, but still has moments of interest littered around from time to time.