Full disclosure: I’m a New York City boy – born and raised. In 2001 I was in the ninth grade, living in New York City and then “Is This It?” came out. I started smoking pot, started a band, started having sex and started a lot of other drugs too. And all of a sudden I had friends. Not all at once though… Not all at once. BUT, I had just started high school. I was growing up, and consequently, giving up on the promise that Emo never made good on. Don’t ask me what it ever even was – I do not know. No one knows. The Strokes came around at a time when I, and many other people were ready for something to get excited about. We were ready for something really fucking rad. And The Strokes were that.
I want The Strokes to not suck.
The Strokes are not really fucking rad anymore. I salute Jack White for knowing how to handle a legacy and a mythos. Even though The White Stripes didn’t end on some career defining moment of transcendent genius, they never started sucking. And nobody will ever look back over The White Stripes questionably. Nobody I consider a friend anyway. The Strokes are different.
Full disclosure: I thought the first three Strokes albums were pretty sweet. I defended “First Impressions of Earth” against a lot of people. I believed they were moving toward something interesting, and I believed some “us against them” mentality. I believed The Strokes were growing – just nobody else got it, and maybe they weren’t growing the most gracefully. But-what-the-fuck-ever. I even went so far as to say that “Angles” didn’t suck. Before you begin to question my judgment, let me avert your attention to the word “went.”
“Angles” does indeed suck.
So The Strokes have a new song called “One Way Trigger.” I wanted to review it for the Mishka audience and my friends, because The Strokes will always be somewhat important in some way to me. But honestly, spitting out a little spite was a helluva lot more fun than listening to that fucking song again.
But the song… Oh man. I get angry right from the jump. So you can’t seem to read about this song without A-ha’s “Take On Me” being mentioned. Sure. Whatever. But that song is a cool fun pop song. This isn’t. The Strokes’ “One Way Trigger” sounds like a stiff rigid loop from garage band. That’s how tight, economic, exacting and boring Fab’s drumming is. But maybe the song calls for that level of boring. The synths sound straight out of a preprogrammed loop that some faceless someone made for kids to play guitar solos over. Or karaoke. Some whack shit like that. Speaking of guitar solos: there’s also a guitar solo. And a bass line. Not that it’s in any way interesting. I definitely don’t want to give you that idea.
I’m forgetting something… OH THE SINGER. Julian Casablancas. I want to make an Icarus joke – it would play on a few levels. See… dude tries to rock a falsetto here. Julian Casablancas singing falsetto. Used sparingly, it can be a thrilling flourish that adds drama to his melodies. And yes, for proof of that I am telling you to watch the video for The Lonely Island’s song, “Boombox.” For the quick fix skip to about two minutes in, but I really suggest you view and listen to the whole thing; it is better than the new Strokes song. Yes. Right now I am telling you that a joke song written by comedians with a tongue in cheek feature is better than a real song written by musicians with no comedic goals.
But maybe that’s part of the problem – The Strokes were never really that funny. They were cool, I stress were, but that “cool” doesn’t hold up well upon review. I’d like to avert your attention to their, sadly, un-infamous interview with Nardwaur. This interview shows them at the beginning of their career. If anything they should be lose and relaxed. They’re cool NYC boys. Nardwaur usually interviews rappers. Who don’t overtly fuck with Canada. Or the pattern known as plaid. Or geeked out overly anxious skinny white dudes asking lotsa questions. But somehow this cool group of young Punk inspired city boys totally missed the point of a Nardwaur interview. What we’re left with is a four part (yes four part) example of how not to portray yourself.
Somewhere early in The Strokes’ career they lost the desire to be a basic badass rock band. They wanted to achieve more than that, and that is commendable. But somewhere along the way to becoming artists they stumbled and got discouraged. And now they’re making albums like “Angles” and songs like “One Way Trigger.” There’s more to it than that, and I do believe that, one day, The Strokes story should be told, scrutinized and added to the annals of rock lore. But today’s not that day.
Today we simply have a bad song to listen to. I’m not even going to get into the lyrics. They are absolute doggerel. I mean really bad. There are several interpretations (dude is unintelligible) floating around the Internet. All of them are head slammingly awful. Why did this happen? My only guess is that The Strokes caught wind of Paul Banks’ HIP HOP mixtape and decided, “Welp, we should do something shitty too.” Julian attempts to ask big questions. I’m working with the Rapgenius interpretation of the lyrics; It’s better than the other version floating around, and I want to give Julian the benefit of the doubt. But the big questions he pokes at aren’t ever satisfyingly dealt with. Isaac Brock and his band of modest mice handled these issues much more deftly over the course of numerous albums. Hell, Isaac didn’t even need “Lonesome Crowded West” or “The Moon & Antarctica” to address these issues. He did it well enough in one song.
The Strokes – One Way Trigger. When you’re done listening I suggest some trolling of the Rolling Stone readers. It’ll be more fun than listening to the song.- FuckinFanell