Debate: The Strokes’ New Single — great or eh?

pop-break co-founders brent johnson and bill bodkin debate the merits of the strokes’ “comeback” single …

I like The Strokes. They’re a band with a singular sound, a hip-but-not-too-hip aesthetic — and they thankfully helped resuscitate tuneful rock in the days of Backstreet and Britney.

But is it just me, or are they hell-bent on recording the same song over and over again?

Five years after their last record, the New York quintet have returned, setting the blogosphere abuzz. They’ll release a new album, Angles, on March 11. And yesterday, they offered up a peek, when first single “Under Cover Of Darkness” debuted on radio. (I heard New York’s top alt-rock station, 101.9 WRXP, play it twice. In a row.)

It’s all there: the crisscrossing guitars, the detached vocals — hallmarks that have worked well until now. But this time, The Strokes sound so … disinterested. For the comeback single from a band once pegged as rock ‘n’ roll saviors, it sounds too much like a B side. From 2001.

Repeating a formula isn’t necessarily a bad thing — as long as it’s good, that is.

— Brent Johnson

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If you know me, there’s a few absolutes I’ve held dear to my musical life. I love long, complex guitar solos and I hated The Strokes. My hate for The Strokes was so palpable, you could taste it. So rich, you could drizzle it on pancakes.

That changed yesterday.

As Brian Philips of WRXP 101.9 in New Yok spun the record back-to-back around 4 p.m. yesterday, I found myself surprisingly engrossed. Is it perfect? No. But there’s something about it that I just dig. It’s got a breezy toe-tapping, head-bopping quality to it that I appreciate. It’s got a nice groove to it.

In fact, it’s made me re-examine my entire hatred of The Strokes. Was it due to the excessive critical praise that was heaped higher than Mount Kilamanjaro onto them? Or have my musical tastes changed since The Strokes released their first record?

Either way, “Under Cover Of Darkness” is an important single for the world of rock ‘n’ roll — probably one of the most important rock singles in ages. After last week’s crushing news of The White Stripes retirement, it’s now up to the band that was lauded and loved the world over to help dust rock off and pick it off the ground — to champion that sweaty, indie, New York garage sound and reclaim their place as the faces of rock royalty.

— Bill Bodkin

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

1 COMMENT

  1. “crushing news”? seriously? the white stripes were fun, yet gimmicky and hadn’t created anything new in a while. i, for one, was not even phased by the news. it was merely a blip…less important than chicken quesadilla day in the caf.

    • our opinions on the stripes differ quite famously. however, if you put it in the context of rock music, not say everyday life or chicken quesadillas, the loss of the stripes to the world of rock was pretty big. they were one of the few top modern-era bands that could sell millions of records and sell-out arenas.