The Strokes made their entrance at a time of crisis. "Is This It," the band's deeply disillusioned debut album, came out on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now the New York quintet fronted by Julian Casablancas is back with its first album in seven years, with a title that eerily — if accidentally — speaks to the way we're living now.
"The New Abnormal" was produced by Rick Rubin, known for resuscitating careers going back to Johnny Cash's in the 1990s. The pairing underscores that the Strokes' heyday of skinny-jeans cool is long past.
So, does "The New Abnormal" make them relevant again? Not entirely. The album is an uneven, if largely effective, comeback. Signature touches are there — brittle, clipped rhythms and Casablancas' sneering vocals — and some songs get past acting aloof.
The Strokes never seemed like candidates for long-term survival. But by the end of "The New Abnormal," the band sounds committed, and stronger than you might suspect. "Gone now are the old times," Casablancas sings on the six-minute "Ode To the Mets." "The only thing that's left is us."