The Strokes – Future Present Past EP

The pieces are all there, but there's still something missing.

The pieces are all there, but there’s still something missing.

Past, present. Future?

The Strokes - Future Present Past EP

Label: Cult Records
Released: June 3rd 2016
Rating: ★★★

When it comes to The Strokes, opinions seem to be cast in black or white. Essential, big beasts who still hold the attention, or washed up, tired and with nothing to say – those divides aren’t generational, either. If anything, it’s the fans too young to be there for ‘This Is It?’ who now shout the loudest for the iconic New Yorkers, their New Rock Revolutionary peers often reserving the harshest criticism for a band who, at one point, genuinely were exciting enough to spark a scene that defined the first half of a decade.

And yet, when it comes to ‘Future Present Past’, the band’s new EP, it’s neither black nor white. If anything, it’s all shades of grey.

On one hand, the parts are there. ‘OBLIVIUS’ sounds like classic Strokes – in theory at any rate – in a way that no other band could be. But on the other, ‘Threat of Joy’ lives up to its name, meandering and staggering in a way where it’s only ever suggesting it could explode into something more tangible. Yes, the effortless shrug has always been Julian Casablancas’ special move, but little grabs the listener to demand attention, instead staggering past with a waved suggestion of past glories.

‘Drag Queen’ falls in a similar fashion. It would be wrong to suggest it was bad – it isn’t – but it’s also struggling to say much at all. This isn’t a case of simply failing to hit the heights of their brilliant debut – nothing matches the heights of, say, ‘Under Cover of Darkness’, the lead track from 2011’s ‘Angles’.

It’s clear The Strokes still know how to be themselves – or at least passable caricatures – but while the gang may be together, it’s almost as if they’re not completely sure why. That fist of direct pop action that sat under their red velvet glove sounds limp and unclenched. There’s still enough there to be a worthwhile listen, but that’s never been enough to hold even the band’s attention for long. Assertive action is required, and quickly, or this really could be it. [sc name=”stopper” ]

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