Monday, March 2nd, 2020

The Strokes – Bad Decisions

Pictured: Julian Casablancas reading our blurbs…



[Video]
[5.00]
 

Alfred Soto: Resisting jokes about the title is easy; less easy is resisting the interpolation of “I Melt With You.” Modern English’s famous non-hit relies on the folk-indebted communitarian spirit of its chorus: the off key harmonies and the way the synth mimicked an accordion suggested the best kind of pub singalong. With The Strokes, I’m stuck in a dingy room with a boring drunk monologist who resists entreaties to step outside for air. Julian Casablancas is a boring singer.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Did Casablancas always sound this much like Pat Monahan doing Bowie karaoke? Is that why he’s mixed so awkwardly, as if to emulate someone discreetly moving away the mic?
[5]

Kayla Beardslee: God grant me the confidence of a canonized man in rock who thinks people want to listen to him sing. It took me three tries, over three separate days, to make it more than two minutes into this song, but once I made it to the end I realized “Bad Decisions” isn’t quite as repellent as I’d first thought. The production is fine: my reaction of “This is not for me, may I please excuse myself from this song immediately” comes entirely from Casablancas’s vocals. Does he always sound this slurred, jerky, and unprocessed?
[3]

Kylo Nocom: What does it mean when a song that’s considered a “return to form” rips off two better tracks? Yet more proof of the continued creative bankruptcy of INDIE ROKK!!!, and evidence enough to show that the critical hegemony of alternative music in the 2000s did nothing but give us an audience that only enjoys rock when cannibalized and shat out into its own tropes over and over again. The point isn’t that the Strokes ripping off two better tracks is in itself a wrong — Haim last year proved that derivation can be made worthwhile provided the right talents — but to render “I Melt With You” and “Dancing With Myself” as emotionless shells of nostalgia-bait in an attempt to evoke The Good Old Days only emphasizes how boring it is to try to care about this.
[3]

Oliver Maier: Jumps between perfectly nice, wholly unremarkable new wave (my friend suggested “I Melt With You” plus “Dancing With Myself”; I would throw in “Dreaming” — frankly you can mix and match as you see fit) and a bridge that sounds like the band on autopilot; think Room on Fire several hours after the fire brigade left. Casablancas stumbles through it all, trying for vulnerability but rendered distant by his signature vocal distortion.
[5]

Iris Xie: Rather impressive that a song that I would expect to be highly stoked on its enthusiasm would sound so subdued — it’s more like a reminiscence on bad decisions once made and a desire to relive those glory days. A quaint retirement song.
[6]

Ian Mathers: A prompt from a friend on Twitter the other night got me to go back and figure out my top 10 Strokes songs. None of them were more than four minutes long. That might be less relevant if this song sounded less like one of those ones stretched to fill nearly five for no particular reason. And yet… the basic sound is still as enjoyable as it’s ever been. Tighten it up a little again and get it humming like it used to, and you might just remind me that Is This It and Room on Fire are both very much worthwhile albums.
[6]

Vikram Joseph: It’s kind of remarkable that a rock band that emerged in a meteor shower of pure hype in 2001 are still such a viable commercial concern in this wildly foreign musical climate; admittedly, part of that is the predictable wave of thirty-something nostalgia lapping against the shore, but there must be more to it than that. It seems unlikely they foresaw it themselves – detours into new-wave and seven year breaks betwen albums aren’t exactly suggestive of a career masterplan. That said, “Bad Decisions” is pretty close to what you might have expected The Strokes might sound like in 2020 – jangly, amiable, and ever so slightly unimaginative. The distinctive sonic niche they found for themselves — defined by Julian Casablancas’s inimitable yelp and those jagged, insistent, warm guitars that almost sound like synths — is a safe space for them to retreat to, even after all this time. And on the post-chorus, achingly reminiscent of something off Room On Fire, it sounds briefly almost vital. But the chorus feels half-hearted — even for a band whose whole vibe was nonchalance — and the song loses momentum over almost five minutes, proving that nostalgia needs a good editor.
[6]

Brad Shoup: No idea what the last few albums have sounded like, but I’m amazed that 20 years on, Casablancas still exercises that drowsy, dream-logic melodicism while everyone hammers out an interlocking, brittle riff pattern. There seems to be a reference to SALT I… maybe it’s a red herring, or maybe the Strokes are disarmament skeptics.
[6]

Scott Mildenhall: It’s impossible to dodge the issue: Billy Idol should cover this, like when The Sweet did “Gold on the Ceiling.” Then, he can reflect that less than 20 years into his own career, he was making an ambitious cyberpunk concept album. While some believe that ambition went unrealised, his computer twiddling in fact created the glitch that became known as The Strokes, repeatedly skipping back as if “Last Nite” wasn’t just their pinnacle, but also its release date. So, another respectable offering from the Idol mainframe.
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Reader average: [6.5] (2 votes)

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One Response to “The Strokes – Bad Decisions”

  1. Okay, but At The Door is actually really damn good. You guys shoulda covered it instead :(