When The Strokes released the first song off their upcoming album, Comedown Machine, set for release in March, shocked fans wondered if the band had veered into…well, 80s pop territory, A-ha style. In ‘One Way Trigger’, fast-paced keyboards underlie frontman Julian Casablancas’ straining falsetto as he shifts through inevitable but satisfying pop changes. Some speculated that this sound marked a new direction for the prominent indie rock band.
But last night The Strokes unveiled a track that is right up their alley. ‘All The Time’, the album’s lead single, has everything fans have come to expect—mesmerizing guitar hooks, Casablancas’ languid voice, and true garage rock sensibilities. The song is undeniably catchy and the defiant chorus (“You’re livin’ a lie!”) gives it considerable weight. There’s a wryness, too, a sly wink at the listener, and the opening lines feature a reference to ‘I’ll Try Anything Once’, a B-side featured in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (“Those that try anything once”). The result is that ‘All The Time’ is perhaps the most Strokes-y Strokes song yet. And, no, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Why mess with an effective formula, one that has attracted millions of fans?
Yet at the same time I can’t help but hope that The Strokes tread new ground with Comedown Machine. ‘One Way Trigger’ may not have resonated with fans, but it and songs like it demonstrate growth, fluidity, and a band having fun with itself. As indie acts like Twin Shadow and Toro y Moi embrace 80s synth beats, ‘One Way Trigger’ reveals an awareness of the current musical landscape…and coming from an old-school act, that’s a powerful thing.