Album Review: The Strokes – “Future Present Past” EP
June 7, 2016
There’s a strange yet thrilling feeling you get in your gut when you find out that one of your favorite bands has finally burst back into the airwaves after disappearing for quite some time. Across their last two albums, 2011’s Angles and 2013’s Comedown Machine, The Strokes steered away from their stylistic path, gearing toward a new direction; and the criticism was not taken lightly. Their latest EP release, Future Present Past recaptures the idiosyncratic mix of wreathing guitar riffs and blurred vocals, suggesting that The Strokes are still up to their old tricks.
The four-track EP Future Present Past sets off with “Drag Queen”, which drips in synths, crisp guitar strings, and a jolting bassline. The track is a howling nightmare with some ominous foreshadowing from lead singer Julian Casablancas. “Your fucked up system / messing up the city” lyrics that clearly embody an anti-capitalistic trend and recognizes the definitive darkness of life; a true symbolism of Joy Division’s form of expression.
Vibrations and all, “Oblivious” finds The Strokes in their purest and most classical form. It emits a lighter sentiment as guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. add some flair with their duo-guitar harmony intertwining through Casablancas’ raw vocals “Untame me, it’s time / I know the way uptown / Unchain me / I’ve waited for the time.” The final guitar riff is reminiscent of Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic” illustrating that collaborating with Daft Punk on their 2013 RAM (Random Access Memories) album truly made an impact on him.
“Threat of Joy” edges the inkling of frustration and the temptation of a different future; “I cannot wait to chase it all / yeah, I saw it in my crystal ball.” Musically, the song is visibly representative of the “Past” with its early morning swing and upbeat rhythms. Inspired by the Velvet Underground, Julian Casablancas was quoted “The ultimate goal is to turn Cult (Records) into this time machine that exists to make sure that bands like the Velvet Underground can be more popular and appreciated in their time vs. twenty years later.”
Future Present Past, as the title suggests, is mindful of the band’s history and is a culmination of their career; it’s an EP of unique approaches and all things considered, these work effectively with symbols of familiarity integrated with new and creative approaches. Although it seems like somewhat of a “playing it safe” kind of release, it just sounds like The Strokes are just happy to be back and playing together again.