Now, there’s a lot to be said for not listening to new music until the official live recording has been released. Maybe a grainy YouTube live video isn’t the best way to hear the new Strokes tune, you know? Ah, but where’s the fun in that? Charging in headfirst is part of being a fan, isn’t it?
So Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr. and co. performed new song ‘The Adults Are Talking’ at a charity gig in LA last night. Fan footage went up on YouTube very soon afterwards, as the band must have known it would. It’s the first new Strokes stuff we’ve heard since the 2016 EP ‘Future Present Past’, which was preceded by their last studio album, 2013’s ‘Comedown Machine’. While that decent album sounded duty bound – the band played no shows around the LP and did nothing to promote it – the EP seemed a labour of love.
Oddball and often experimental – with nods to the past them made The Strokes one of the most exciting bands of their era – the four-track record suggested the New York five-piece would expand into new territory. ‘The Adults Are Talking’, though, is the sound of classic Strokes: led by a spindly guitar riff, it sounds closer to 2003’s ‘Reptilia’ than dissonant ‘Future Present Past’ highlight ‘Drag Queen’. True, Julian’s unruly vocal at time strays as wildly at it did on that EP, but the poppy, circular guitar solo at the end is pure ‘Room On Fire’ stuff.
In fact, if we’re being honest, the track doesn’t sound dissimilar to ‘I Don’t Want To Be There’, the AI-written song released last year by Chicago-based music and tech collective Botnik. It was created by a predictive text programme that mimics whatever has been fed into it – in this case, Stokes song after Strokes song. Remember ‘Pink Lemonade’, the absolute banger James Bay released last March, which sounded like The Strokes covered in star dust? Well, neither the real or the fake Strokes song is as good as that – but they’re close!
If this is the first taste of an upcoming Strokes album (in January 2018 Casablancas told Beats 1’s Matt Wilkinson, “We’re [The Strokes] always talking but if anything it would be 2019 – that zone”), it’s good news indeed: the sound of band indebted to their past but with an eye on the future… AI overlords and all.