EP Review: The Strokes – “Future Present Past”

By Jeremy Nifras

strokes-future-present-pastIt’s been a long three years since The Strokes released their last record, 2013’s Comedown Machine. Unlike many people, I enjoyed the hell out of that album (it topped my 2013 albums list), and was heavily anticipating whatever the band could deliver next. Since the release of Comedown Machine, the group embarked on numerous solo ventures, such as Albert Hammond Jr. and Julian Casablancas’ newest solo efforts, as well as Nick Valensi writing songs for Sia, among others.

Just this morning, news immediately flooded the blogosphere about a possible new Strokes release: holographic billboards were seen throughout NYC, the band’s Brazilian Twitter announced a new song to be premiered on SiriusXM, and Albert Hammond Jr. teased towards new material being played at their upcoming set at Governor’s Ball 2016. And eventually, one by one, three new songs from the band’s new EP were released to the public. For some Strokes fans, Future Present Past is a strong, ballsy return to form that recalls the band’s early material; and for others, it’s simply another great taste of one of NYC’s finest bands.

The EP begins with “Drag Queen”, which premiered on Zane Lowe’s radio show earlier today. The band wastes no time bringing the heat, as Fab Moretti’s clunky drums lead to a strange, nearly futuristic organ (?) melody. The lead guitars on this particular tune are pure Strokes, and while it may not be the strongest point on the new EP, it’s a tune only these guys could churn out.

“OBLIVIUS”, the first track to premiere from the EP, could have fit snugly on Angles. The 80s-influenced sheen is all over this track, but not to a point where it becomes distracting. Featuring a breakdown similar to a guitar lead in Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic”, the song is instantly memorable, with a great build towards the song’s back half. Julian Casablancas’ vocals are perfect in juxtaposition with the instrumentals, as per usual. Additionally, Fab Moretti’s remix (the last track on the EP), adds welcome atmosphere to further the song’s already charming qualities.

But the EP’s strongest points come during the last song (remixes aside) on the record, “Threat of Joy”. From beginning to end, the guitar interplay and Casablancas’ croons just scream Room on Fire. The song lacks urgency, but in a serene, comforting way (a reason songs like “Meet Me in the Bathroom” are one of their best). One could argue this track is pretty much flawless; each riff and drum beat are continuously complementary of each other, endlessly enchanting. The latter end of this tune is especially brilliant, featuring twinkling, pretty guitar leads that reassures listeners that The Strokes, are in fact, here to stay.

An interesting theory I came across is that each song represents a period in the band’s career: “Drag Queen” being the “future” track, “OBLIVIUS” as the “present”, and “Threat of Joy” representing the “past”. This is surely an idea that holds up: The Strokes are definitely no stranger to exploring their past, and using those ideas to create something entirely new for the present. And now, the future seems brighter than ever for the band, a sentiment they surely have anticipated. And we welcome it with open arms.

Stream Future Present Past in full below on Spotify. You can preorder an LP copy, as well as various bundles, from the Cult Records site.

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