Last year around this time (June 3rd to be precise), The Strokes released music for the first time since 2013, which was when they released their underrated LP, Comedown Machine, which also signified the end of The Strokes contract with RCA Records. Since then Julian Casablancas, the lead singer and songwriter for The Strokes, has released a record with a new band, Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, and gained a lot of traction with his record label, Cult. This new Strokes, EP, Future Present Past, is one of the coolest, most mysterious, and most misunderstood pieces of music ever. The album art is fantastic and was even my emblem on Battlefield 1, The music is so progressive and retro and seems to have taken inspiration from the Vaporwave and Future Funk movements in terms of themes and sounds. This is one of those albums that gets increasingly better with each listen, due to it being such an intelligent work of art. Even the title, “Future Present Past”, represents each song on this EP in order. “Drag Queen” is the future. “OBLIVIUS” is the present. “Threat of Joy” is the past.
The opening track, “Drag Queen”, starts off instantly with a cold and soulless drum beat, reminiscent of the music of Joy Division. This is my favorite track on the EP as well as one of my all time favorite songs. It’s very robotic, futuristic, retro, surreal, and so so so unique. I wish there was a band that played music in this vein, because I would listen to it extensively. I can not even put into words what this song makes me feel, which is pathetic as it is my job as a music reviewer to be able to string together a few words that could achieve this. I especially adore the guitar in the middle of this track. It makes me feel as if I attempted time travel, but my time machine exploded and I became one with time and space as a galactic entity that sees all and hears all. The drums on this song just totally kill it throughout as well. Fab is one of my all time favorite drummers, the man is unlike any other and it comes through on this track.
The next track, the ‘present’, is “OBLIVIUS”, and I believe this song is a masterpiece. Lyrically it discusses themes such as capitalism, politics, mystics, and philosophy. In the chorus when Julian just belts out “WHAT SIIIDE ARE YOU STANDING ON?!” way above his register it paints the most surreal imagery in my mind and the current state of politics in our world. In fact, they were not aloud to release the music video for this song because of it’s political themes. There is however, a lyrical video that does the song justice in terms of supporting visuals. I will link it here. The guitar solo in the middle of this track is very big and grand and seems heavily influenced by the progressive rock guitar solos found in the works of Julian Casablancas’ other band. The low keyboardy bass synth lines in the song’s instrumental add to overall presence of this song, and the retro- fast paced riff that follows the guitar solo makes me feel like i am falling endlessly down the binary code of a computer chip.
The final track, “Threat of Joy”, represents the past and I would say this is the most “Strokes” sounding song on this EP. The other tracks before this song have a ton of vocal effects on Julian’s voice, but on this song his voice sounds much like it did on The Strokes’ third studio album, First Impressions of Earth. The spoken word introduction on this song is something we have never heard on a previous Strokes album though. If I am being honest the first time I heard it last year I was making fun of how awkward and out of place it was in the song with my buddy. The spoken word thing grew on me though, I do not really mind it at all anymore. The song instrumentally has a chill, island vibe that fits Julian Casablancas’ style and aesthetic pretty well. This song also discusses themes of capitalism in it, which is more apparent after you watch the music video for this song, which is very cryptic and was created in response to the OBLIVIUS music video being shut down. The guitarists, Nick and Albert really are the ones who pull this entire track together.
This album has not gotten very positive reviews from other “Music Critics”, and perhaps I am a little biased because The Strokes are my favorite band, but I think that if you did not like this album you should give it another shot. It holds up so well alongside their previous music and it gives me such high hopes for future albums from The Strokes in the next few years. I could rant all day long about how misunderstood The Strokes are and how to me they are the best band of the 21st century so far. I will save that for a future post, but go listen to this EP if you have not already.
Release Date: 3 June 16
Genres: Post-Punk Revival, Indie Rock, Electronica.
Track Highlights: Drag Queen, OBLIVIUS, Threat of Joy.
- Drag Queen
- Threat of Joy
- OBLIVIUS (Moretti Remix)
i. e. 9.8/10