As life as we know it slows to a stop, it seems so too do the music releases. With more and more album postponements it seems like there won’t be a whole lot of new music to enjoy in the coming weeks. However, not everyone has stopped. This week, we got the gift of a new, highly-anticipated album from indie icons The Strokes, as well as brand new singles from pop queen Charli XCX, as well as Twenty One Pilots and Gorillaz. Enjoy!
The Strokes – The New Abnormal
The more I listen to this record, the more I feel that it will be in the top album lists of the year. This is not an album that you will listen to once and move on from, but a well-crafted piece of music that perfectly blends the old and the new, with the result of a timeless work from indie legends The Strokes. Taking everything we loved about early noughties indie rock, and mixing it with the electronic sounds of a new decade, The Strokes have really outdone themselves with The New Abnormal.
‘The Adults are Talking’ opens the album with an 80’s-style drum beat and a 00’s style guitar. Lead vocalist Julian Casablancas’ voice is soft and intriguing, and fits in well with the musical complexity of the opening track. With each listen, what strikes me is the 80s post-punk influence that shines through alongside the indie and electronic sides of each track (are we bringing back classic post-punk? Can we please bring back classic post-punk?). ‘Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus’ is another standout, catchy track from the album, reminiscent of early Franz Ferdinand with the bonus electronic riff and enchanting drum line.
It seems that taking influence from bygone eras is all the rage right now, but I can say with confidence that The Strokes have pulled it off with the most success. Not focusing on just one sound, The New Abnormal takes the old and the new and puts them together in a hypnotically cohesive way, creating something altogether new and exciting.
The Strokes The New Abnormal is out now via RCA Records.
Charli XCX – ‘forever’
Although it hasn’t been very long since we last heard from Charli XCX (I swear I’ve reviewed one of her albums since I’ve been Records Editor), she’s back with single ‘forever’, the first ahead of her upcoming album, How I’m Feeling Now. It’s a fairly tame release, and its lyrics about loving someone forever are nothing new. But it has its moments of musically standing out and breaking down, which adds a unique touch to an otherwise standard lo-fi release. All in all, the lyrics are nothing to write home about, but there are some interesting influences here which could bode well for the upcoming record.
Charli XCX’s ‘forever’ is out now via Warner Records UK.
Twenty One Pilots – ‘Level of Concern’
It seems we’ve entered the next unwelcome stage of the pandemic: quarantine-themed love songs. ‘Level of Concern’, the latest single from Twenty One Pilots, has divided fans of the duo. While some are happy with the chilled-out, easy synth of the track, others do not believe that it lives up to the standard set by preceding music from the band. I’ve never been a massive fan, so I went in to this fairly blind, but I have to say I was fairly underwhelmed. It feels like a song that was rushed to keep up with the pandemic, with lyrics like “Will you be my little quarantine”. Yes, people will relate to them singing about panic and fear, but lines like this come off as a little too lighthearted for the situation we’re in.
Twenty One Pilots’ ‘Level of Concern’ is out now via Fueled By Ramen.
Gorillaz – ‘Aries’
‘Aries’ is the latest in Gorillaz’s releases for their Song Machine collection. Featuring Peter Hook of post-punk band New Order on bass and producer Georgia on drums for this track. These songs are coming in steady installments, with ‘Aries’ standing as the third part of the Song Machine saga. It’s a musically impressive track, which comes as no surprise with the names associated with this song, whose influences are evident throughout. It’s a constant, pleasant surprise that I believe will be a treasure for fans of the animated group, and leaves me excited for what will come next from this musical project.
Gorillaz’s ‘Aries’ is out now Gorillaz Partnership.
Other Selected Releases
Black Eyed Peas – ‘MAMACITA’
Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Kyoto’
Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
This Week In Records: Playlist Edition
Need a weekly music fix of all the songs you should care about? We’ve made a super handy playlist of all of this week’s biggest releases, so just sit back and listen to the good stuff. Updated every Friday.