June 10, 2016 The Strokes – Future Present Past (Album Review)
Many journalists credit The Strokes as one of the bands that effectively represented Pop Rock in the early 2000s. The band was formed in 1998, in New York, United States, by Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Albert Hammond Jr. (rhythm guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Nikolai Fraiture (bass), and Fabrizio Moretti (drums, percussion). Its emergence brought the swagger of Alternative Rock music back to the mainstream during that decade.
With that stated, The Strokes released their debut album, Is This It?, in 2001, followed by two more albums – 2003’s very angular Room on Fire and 2006’s Grunge/Shoegaze-influenced First Impressions of Earth – after which the band went on a hiatus. Returning in 2011, The Strokes released Angles, the sound of which recalls the quirkiness of early New Wave bands like Blondie (“Heart of Glass”), The Cars (“Shake It Up”), and Missing Persons (“Words”). The follow-up came in the form of 2013’s more New Wave-sounding Comedown Machine.
Then, on June 3, 2016, The Strokes released an EP entitled Future Present Past, which primarily consists of three songs. Released on Casablancas own label, Cult Records, the first track, “Drag Queen,” has a sense of urgency; its driving bassline, sparkling guitar harmonics, and dissonant ad-lib on top of a droning synthesizer and guitar rhythm complement the interplay of Casablancas’ falsettos and low-register vocal drawls, harking back to similar traits of the Post-Punk/Gothic pioneers Joy Division (“Transmission”) and Tones on Tail (“Christian Says”).
Next is the funky and Disco-flavored “Oblivius,” which has the traits that best characterize The Strokes’ music – Valensi’s cyclical guitar lines, Hammond’s angular guitar rhythms, Fraiture’s trebly and groovy basslines, Moretti’s frenetic drumming, and Casablancas’ multi-style vocal approach. Finally, the EP closes with the upbeat and guitar-dominated “Threat of Joy,” further treating the listeners to a taste of whatever big dish The Strokes is currently concocting.
Ultimately, what is impressive about The Strokes is their stylistic consistency and confidence in infusing into their music significant aspects of their influences, allowing them to continue establishing their distinct sound without the need to deny their musical roots. One may regard Future Present Past as a satisfying appetizer to another much-awaited main course that The Strokes are masterfully finishing right now. CrypticRock gives Future Present Post 4 out of 5 stars.