See, the thing about The Strokes' comeback is that you can't really fault them for trying to be a bit ambitious. Sure, on the single Oblivius they're sticking to the realms of indie-pop white boy guitar music, but obviously, they have every right to do so, and by adding in these oddball synths at the end, and with Julian Casablancas' sprawling vocal delivery of the (kinda inaudible) chorus, it's certainly got the feel of something with a bit of ambition. But really, although while I was ready to love this, it kinda lacks enough real substance to do it for me.
However, this track doesn't really do it too much for me; firstly, the chorus and the verses feel like they're from completely different songs. The verses have this kinda tacky bassline-and-danceable percussion section, that sounds like it belongs on a Foals b-side, while the verses are home to massive guitar screeches and Julian C's actually outstanding delivery of the chorus, which, I hate to say it to all you indie kids, is kinda a bit like Matt Bellamy, but not quite as passionate or expressive. To me, the song just feels kinda directionless, with these choruses emerging out of nowhere whilst the song structure kind of meanders around a bit, each bit sounding less and less like its the same song as the last bit. And this is a brilliant quality for something deliberately experimental, or outrageous, but it just feels kind of awkward on what is just an indie pop song, really.
It's not all too doom, or too gloom though, because although this is a bit of a fired blank for me, it has promise. The chorus, the middle 8's twinkling synth, Casablancas' vocals sounding as good as ever - new Strokes material could be pretty damn good. But Oblivius is, to use the parlance of our times, totally lacking the wow factor - the new EP might still be good, but this is very take it or leave it, rather than very Take It Or Leave It.
Stream Oblivius here.
Words: Calum Cashin