You have to give it to the Strokes, releasing an EP and not an album was a bit of a surprise. After a few classic billboard hints, they’ve released an EP with very little notice and whilst fans might have expected an album announcement, here it is. It’s four tracks, with one remix by drummer Fabrizio Moretti, and that EP format might excite fans about a fast-paced all-thrills ride that originally shot them to fame with The Modern Age EP. And true to its short nature, it never gives itself time to slow down, which is where the Strokes lowest moments have come from. It’s the kick up the arse that the Strokes need after Comedown Machine, but it isn’t enough to revive a band whose effortless cool is now just a twinkle in the past.
The first track, ‘Drag Queen’, aims to be anthemic in its chorus, and when it kicks in for long enough, it begins to sound good, just for the staggering verse to stumble back in. Julian Casablancas’ vocals, hidden behind his wall of fuzz, was never the most amazing thing to listen to, but he had that slur and little Casablancas-isms which made him an interesting frontman. Here, when he’s channeling more of his Voidz side-project, he pulls out some weird phrasings. The band does pull it together in the second half for a not-quite-solo, with the dream team of Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi working together in unison. ‘OBLIVIUS’, the first track that was released, has a classic Strokes sound, with some Angles-era danceability. It sounds like ‘Machu Picchu’s slightly more garagey brother. The riff is straight from the Strokes manual and the drumbeat is a reminder that this is a post-Room On Fire release. It’s interesting to pick out the ways that the Strokes have tried to evolve, despite shooting themselves in the foot by performing perfectly the first time around. Casablancas’s chorus of ‘What side you standing on?’ isn’t painful, but he can’t growl like he used to. The solo somewhat pulls it back by being ear-splitting, and then the pseudo-metal section is a little bit cute.
Then there’s ‘Threat To Joy’ as the final non-remix song. There’s this weird spoken word beginning when Casablancas says ‘Be right there honey!’. The track is the most different compared with ‘Drag Queen’ and ‘OBLIVIUS’ in that they go for a mid-tempo approach, but the guitar solo remains just as jagged and Strokesy as ever. That’s the word to describe the EP – Strokesky. There’s no weird left turns like Angles and they’ve written some fun pop songs. No doubt they’ll be on the live circuit as the Strokes play some festivals and serve as fresh material if the Strokes decide to make a new album any time soon. It isn’t revolutionary, but neither has anything the band have done since Is This It.
Funnel Recommends: OBLIVIUS