My top five favorite bands are the Strokes, Death Cab for Cutie, Neutral Milk Hotel, Stars and the Clash, in that order. Don’t try to argue with me, it’s a fact — one of the few things in life I know to be true.
Purchasing Is This It at the age of twelve completely changed how I thought about music. I didn't know music could sound that way. I became fascinated with stark guitar rhythms and aimlessly stumbling down the streets of the Lower East Side (I was living in South Texas at the time). To this day, I keep a copy of that album in my car and on my phone. I remember searching the then-limited Internet for the U.K. version of “New York City Cops,” since it was pulled from the American release. “12:51” was and is forever my “getting ready to go out on a Saturday night” song. My favorite memory of high school is of watching my friend’s band cover “Reptilia” at some shitty club in Fort Worth (one where you could still smoke indoors and pass around PBR at age sixteen, 'cause Texas). One of the few times I got caught by my parental units drunk in high school was the night a friend told me that “Soma” was about a drug I was too uncool to have heard of, and I then went home and played my guitar along to “You Only Live Once” a little too loudly at 3 a.m.
I saw the Strokes live once, at Austin City Limits in 2010. The band came on 25 minutes late, which I thought was “so Julian Casablancas *swoon*.” The first song was “Last Nite,” and I remember about 45 seconds of the concert before I blacked out from pure joy. My relationship with the Strokes is long and meaningful. It’s that passion that makes me say the following: I want the Strokes to break up, permanently.
Last weekend, from the stage of the Landmark Music Festival in D.C, the band announced that it would be heading back into the studio to record its sixth album. That’s at least three albums too many. Sure, Last Impressions of Earth has some stellar moments, and "Under the Cover of Darkness" is one of the catchier songs in existence. I think I listened to it roughly 259 times in a row when it came out. Comedown Machine, the band’s latest effort, is unlistenable, and I refuse to discuss it here.
I don’t want another Strokes album. I don’t need another ninety minutes of Casablancas touting the nihilism he really should’ve outgrown when he turned thirty, and I don't want to hear Albert Hammond Jr. struggling to expand his guitar sound while really just playing the same five riffs over and over. I just want it to end.
It makes sense that the band would put out new music. The Strokes have never been about authenticity or some artistic vision. Casablancas is a boarding-school brat, and there’s an easy argument somewhere that the whole band is just a derivative rip-off of the scene created by Interpol. In a time when the collective culture is riding high on nostalgia, why not headline some big boring festivals and make a few grand off an album no one wants to listen to? I get it, and I also want to punch Casablancas in his smug face. Albert Hammond Jr. is off doing his own thing, which, while not brilliant, is at least interesting. Phrazes for the Young was a great solo effort. I could listen to another one of those albums. But another the Strokes album? Nope, not interested. Please, just don’t.
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I don’t need more of you. What you gave the world in the mid-2000s was more than sufficient for my music-loving soul. I need a sixth Strokes album the way I need to know that the “T” in Voldemort is actually silent and Malfoy and Harry Potter’s kids become bffs, which is to say, simply, I don’t.
Go your separate ways, boys. Walk off the stage and never walk back on. Give me some closure. I’ll love you forever. Whenever anyone asks me about my favorite band, I’ll still say “The Strokes” without missing a beat. But it’s not 2005 anymore. No one is pounding forty ounces and doing bumps of coke in a shady NYC bar. My life and my musical interests have moved on, and so should you.
Goodbye, the Strokes. I love you. Please don’t ever come back.