It’s been awhile since we heard from the Strokes. They left us in the dark after 2013’s Comedown Machine, which finally provided the liberation from their five-album ball-and-chains contract with RCA Records. The Future Present Past EP, their first since 2001, tells us little about their future. But at least it features that classic Strokes sound, which will appease us until we hear more from them.
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Look, I’d love to lash out against the Strokes, but they really don’t give a shit. This is a band so disengaged with their own movements that they put the wrong runtime on the cover to their last album. This is a band whose last musical appearance included “One Way Trigger”, a mumbled retread of “Take On Me” for indie rock sewage fans. This is an extremely famous rock band releasing a three song EP. Do they care if I listen to it? Of course they don’t. They’re barely aware that they’re not Interpol.
This EP strikes out three times and then there’s a remix we won’t talk about. Casablancas ‘n’ co open with “Drag Queen”, which submits to a nihilist ambition that’s crossed all of our mind -- being New Order -- bludgeoning us with one of them waiting bass lines before our fearless leader comes in sounding surprisingly playful. A guitar solo comes swimming our way amidst the staccato New Order figure, probably courtesy of Albert Hammond Jr.; it’s the saving grace of a song that descends into a noisy, indecipherable hell, which would be ok if it wasn’t doing it in reference to the clear song destroyed in its wake. It sounds like stitching coming undone.
“Oblivius”, titled like a Harry Potter spell, is no Strokes magic, fitting into the ‘Angles’ era with considered production switch-ups and semantically rapid guitar… and a really, really boring chorus that amounts to Casablancas wailing melodic flashbacks to the old days. The second half of the song sort of fades itself from memory with a big guitar solo that the band seem to put a damper on out of boredom. “Threat of Joy” is fine, sounds like the Strokes and tries on little more. Three new songs, and all I can say about one of my first ever favourite bands is, “oh, them?”. Their response is likely "who, us?".
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