By Aika Ishimori // Instagram @muscovite.maika
Last month, The Strokes released a new single titled At the Door from their album The New Abnormal, set to be released in April. This 5 minute and 10 second ballad showcases Julian Casablancas’ impressive vocal control and features raw, abrasive, synthesizers that mix beautifully with the melancholy, legato vocals and somber lyrics. These elements create a sense of loneliness and loss for the listener. At the Door is definitely not the type of bop that you would turn on when your friends hand you the aux cord during a joyride, but rather one to listen to while drunkenly wallowing in your teen angst.
Those anticipating a typical Strokes song may be disappointed as the single seems to be heavily influenced by Daft Punk, Casablancas’ solo album Phrazes for the Young, and the experimental rock band The Voidz, formed by Casablancas in 2013. In addition, the lack of climax and absence of Fabrizio Moretti’s drums can be a bit of a turn-off. I waited to be “wow-ed” by a climax or some great tension or surprise, but it never came. This track is an interesting choice for a single, and if it is indicative of the new album, it seems that The Strokes are moving from traditional indie rock to experimental synth-pop.
Although the overall sound is drastically different from when The Strokes first started out, I was comforted by familiar chord progressions, rhythms, and the sounds of the guitar for about 20 seconds into the break. This was just enough for me to prepare myself for what came next.
Following the bridge, there is a non-lyrical break with strong sci-fi, post-apocalyptic vibes shaped by heavily autotuned falsetto vocals and synth arpeggios. This sort of experimentation is very atypical from what The Strokes have done in the past, and it certainly feels like At the Door belongs on a Voidz album. However, for The Strokes, this is a new, refreshing, and exciting sound that piques my interest and curiosity in regard to what stylistic choices The Strokes have made in The New Abnormal.
Lastly, what I do absolutely love about this track is the outro. It wraps up the song beautifully, with Casablancas’ melodic voice quietly mumbling “I been on a cold road/I’ll be waiting, yeah/I’ll be waiting from the other side/Waiting for time to pass,” with the synths rising with each crescendo and then slowly falling, finally fading out into a dismal, empty silence.
Aika Ishimori is a College of Charleston student majoring in Arts Management with a concentration in Music Industry and minors in Religious Studies and Geology. Aika is a classically trained violinist and in her free time, enjoys creating visual art and practicing Kendo, a traditional Japanese martial art.