“We’re planning on recording stuff,” said Julian Casablancas of The Strokes in an interview this week: our firmest confirmation yet that yes, the New York group will return to the studio together once more, after rocky recent years. “It’s the first time we’ve been exclusively writing since ‘Comedown Machine’… I still think we could do cool things and I’ll do that.” Good news, huh? Now the question remains: what will the new material sound like? Here’s what NME writers have got their fingers crossed will happen when the band hit the studio…
Lisa Wright, writer
The Strokes are never going to make another ‘Is This It’. You know that. We know that. They definitely know that, and by the sound of Julian Casablancas’ recent LP with the Voidz – a schizophrenic romp through a video game arcade – he couldn’t give two shits about rehashing the old tropes. So fuck it – let them do something totally different; there are a load of young, exciting new bands out now (see: Peace, Twin Peaks, Public Access TV et al) who are picking up the guitar band mantle just fine. If The Strokes are going to reinvent the wheel again, it’s not going to be in the same way as they did with their debut, so let’s give them free reign and all the tools to try it a new way. The Voidz was the most genuinely weird, out-there record of the last 12 months: refine that, and now we’ve got something exciting for 2015.
Ben Hewitt, writer
It doesn’t really matter where The Strokes find inspiration for a new album; the most important thing is that, this time around, they actually sound somewhat inspired. Because it feels like it’s been a long, long time since they really enjoyed being in a band together: from the snarky, pre-release comments to the flatness of the finished thing, ‘Comedown Machine’ felt like a record made by a group of people who weren’t particularly arsed either way, as if making a new album was a pesky chore rather than an opportunity to reinvent themselves as fresh and exciting. So whether they’re influenced by ‘Yeezus’, smashing watermelons with hammers a la These New Puritans or just going back to the filthy sleaze of CBGBs, let’s just hope they actually get a bit of energy back.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
While the purist in me still wants The Strokes to churn out another ‘Is This It’, I know that’s never gonna happen. They’re now at their best both when they let their hair down and when they push the boat out. Sod themiddle ground. ‘Gratisfaction’, ‘Happy Ending’ – these songs prove that when The Strokes do simplistic, they can still totally ace it. But the few times they’ve been genuinely weird in recent years, they’ve come alive too. Nick Valensi’s solo work with Sia last year was exciting, while the mutant jazz of ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ from Comedown Machine was probably the oddest song they’ve ever recorded – and all the more compelling because of it. A bunch of tunes like that along with a couple of back-to-basics brawlers would do me.
Luke Morgan Britton, news reporter
Casablancas recently told us that The Strokes would only record new music this year if the “vibe is right”. Good vibes aside, their motive has to be a worthy one too. In a climate where reunion tours or cash-in releases are no longer inexcusable, but rather pretty much expected, The Strokes should realise that their fans would rather have no new album at all than just any old one. We could turn a blind eye to ‘Comedown Machine’ (a LP that was allegedly largely recorded to get out of a major label deal), but this time round, their heart has to be in it.
John Calvert, writer
Where should The Strokes take their new album? Straight to dark underbelly of New York, is where, far beyond the gentrified Williamsburg, still exists, just waiting to be tapped by a group of men you sense have reached an age when dark thoughts are never more a hangover away. The New Yorkers would kill this if only they reconnected with the after-hours seediness and shadowed sexual misadventures of ‘Room On Fire’. In a perfect world they’d hire Suicide’s Alan Vegas to produce, keep the mix spacious but the arrangements almost frigidly minimal, and at long last create a sound directly reflective of the malaise Casablancas lyrics have has always conveyed, in the process capturing a little of the same haunted, dank New York that Interpol once conjured so memorably. If nothing else they’ll avoid once again sounding like jobbing professional checking their Twitter feeds between songs from a brightly lit office space.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
The great thing about The Strokes was always their way with a taking a pop hook, beating it around the edges and shrouding it in louche, garage-rock cool. ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ was their last truly great album – ‘Angles’ was pretty good, ‘Comedown Machine’ kind of disappointing – so they should try and recapture the spirit and fun, creative energy of that record and its mix of experimentation and gleaming pop boldness. If Interpol can overcome two fairly average albums on the trot, so can The Strokes.
David Renshaw, Acting Deputy News Editor
The Strokes should make an album as good as ‘Is This It?’ It’s that simple. History, most notably the hours we lost trying to make sense of Julian’s work with The Voidz, would suggest that they’re not too keen on doing that right now though. I’ve always thought of The Strokes in similar terms to their idols (and Family Fortunes rivals) Guided By Voices. They’re less prolific, but there’s a sense that The Strokes will continue to put out album after album together and remain bandmates for as long as they still fit into their Converse. I’d like to see Julian take the reigns of the band again though. Since he loosened that grip following ‘Room On Fire’ relations within the band might have improved, but the music has suffered.
Larry Bartleet, writer
If The Strokes were to do an Arctic Monkeys and come out with something as ballsy, brash and entitled as ‘AM’, I would be a very happy fan. As someone who hasn’t really loved a new Strokes song since ‘Juicebox’ I miss that grit: the largely clean production of their last two albums feels wrong. Sure, they’ve been pushing themselves: ‘One Way Trigger’ proves plentiful evidence of that. But it’d be nice to be surprised – no, gobsmacked – even if that means monumental, MGMT-style digression into the obscure and seemingly unlovable.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Get ‘Is This It’ producer Gordon Raphael back involved. He produced their debut album, and doesn’t seem to be too busy – he recently did a speaking tour of the UK telling stories from those sessions. I don’t want them to try and remake their debut (that didn’t work with ‘Room On Fire’) but Raphael definitely captured an energy from those five guys that no producer has managed to bottle since.
Ben Homewood, Reviews Editor
All I’m after from a new Strokes record is something that sounds comfortable in its own skin, a collection of songs that isn’t surrounded by unnecessary bitching and speculation about how much the band hate each other. It’d be great if they came up with ‘New York City Cops’ ten times over, but that probably won’t happen, so I’ll take something, anything, that I can believe The Strokes themselves are happy with. Where should The Strokes go next? Somewhere that makes them happy!