Thanks to The Modern Age EP and its full length follow-up Is This It, The Strokes will likely forever remain a major staple in conversations of why music (especially rock) in the ’00’s was worthwhile, but after the many polarizing responses of the band’s successive releases and various side dishes and the army of sound-alike acts to emerge in the years that followed, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is really expected from The Strokes in 2013, even as the anticipation for how it might sound is high.
Would we really be satisfied with a simple, back-to-the-roots Xerox-ing of that widely acclaimed introductory output, or could we tolerate more stylistic deviations from that initial artistic statement, like deeper traverses in the slick new wave and romancing bossa nova-flavored exercises that powered much of their last album, 2011’s Angles? And, as it goes when every new piece of Strokes material drops, will their upcoming fifth album be the work that helps to justify all the deafening hype they received as rock’s “saviors” way back when, hyperbole that seems to ebb and flow in strength depending on the day?
Listening to “One Way Trigger”, what is apparent is that The Strokes could care less about the WHAT IT ALL MEANS narrative to be ripped from their new music by others, wholly satisfied in simply continuing apace in experimenting with adding new tricks to their signature soundbase. Also, that even with all their flirtations with other genres, styles and techniques, they are still capable of reeling you in with a winning pop hook…or two…or six.
A distorted count-up leads the way to “Trigger”‘s main gold, the fiercely precise combo of thundering drum pitter-patter and a sparkling synth riff that recalls a sped-up take on the most memorable musical part of “Take On Me”; but that’s far from the lone treasure hiding here, with a zippy guitar solo arising from the fingertips of Albert Hammond Jr, the peaking-in of some fabulous acoustic guitar chuggery that nails the “classic Strokes” aesthetic, and Julian Casablancas’ vocals, still mostly working in the vein of coolly near-unintelligible, but playing up the female-friendly angle of his crooning with a heart-meltingly swoon-worthy pre-chorus bit and tattered, edge-of-range pleading on the second verse while delivering the track’s sing-along apex by opening up his throat for a high-pitched falsetto chorus that’s as goofy as it is glorious.
Will it earn unanimous praise from the masses? Of course not, because this is The Strokes, but it’s rich with all the elements of a better-than-average cut from the band, and familiar enough and unique enough to keep us in tune with what else is to come forth from this new era.