The Strokes – “Bad Decisions”
Last week, the Strokes finally announced their long-awaited, long-teased new album The New Abnormal, their first since 2013’s Comedown Machine. The announcement was accompanied by a new track called “At The Door.” While it wasn’t the first preview we heard of The New Abnormal — the band had already debuted a handful of new songs live — it was certainly a striking statement of a lead single. All moody and atmospheric, with no percussion and little guitar, many heard “At The Door” as more reminiscent of Julian Casablancas’ solo work than the Strokes. (We liked it, though, ranking it as our favorite song last week.) Either way, it was a bold call, kicking off the rollout for the first new Strokes album in seven years with something enticing and elusive more so than something immediate and triumphant.
Well, it turns out that the Strokes had a nice one-two up their sleeve: Start with the weird new introduction, chase it with something a bit more quintessentially Strokes-esque. Taking to socials earlier today, the band announced that after all this time waiting, we’d get two new Strokes songs in quick succession, with another single called “Bad Decisions” arriving just a week after “At The Door.” And in every way the last one was pretty and enigmatic, this is just a straight-up Strokes banger.
Some fans might already have come across “Bad Decisions” — the Strokes debuted it onstage last week, when they played a set at Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire rally ahead of the primary. (This was the same show at which the band unveiled their cover of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House” and where Casablancas sang “New York City Cops” into an actual cop’s face.) In many ways, “Bad Decisions” feels like a classic Strokes song — especially in the chorus melody — with a bit more New Order injected into the lead guitar riff. (Though it’s Billy Idol who gets a co-writing credit, presumably for the similarity to the melody in “Dancing With Myself.”)
The song comes with a video directed by Andrew Donoho. It’s a sort of spoof of retro infomercials, with the premise being you could buy a clone of the Strokes, particularly some uncanny echoes of the band in their earlier days. Given Casablancas’ more untethered endeavors with the Voidz, you could take it as a sort of meta-commentary on people always expecting a specific thing from this band. But then “Bad Decisions” kind of delivers on that, too. If “Bad Decisions” and its video are some kind of Jules piss-take on what people stereotypically want out of the Strokes, it’s still a damn good version of what people stereotypically want out of the Strokes. Check it out below.
The New Abnormal is out 4/10 on Cult Records. Pre-order it here.