The Strokes: "One Way Trigger"

from Comedown Machine (RCA; 2013)

By Brent Ables | 13 February 2013

An open letter to Julian Casablancas:

Listen babe, we need to talk. I know you and I haven’t spent a great deal of time together since high school, although it’s been a real jam on the rare occasions we’ve had a chance to catch up. And I know you’ve probably had some hard times in the last decade, what with all that fawning adoration piling up on top of your sexy bod and comfy trust fund. But look: you’ve got to get your shit together, Frontman. Time was, you earned that role. I am no victim of nostalgic sentimentality, and can still say this with a clear critical conscience: you used to be perfect, Julian. Verily, you created the modern hipster in your image, and you saw that it was good.

So what the fuck happened? Your band is still as tight as they come, as they amply demonstrated on Angles (2011), but on everything since Room on Fire (2003) you seem to be doing nothing but actively finding all the worst possible ways to not give a damn. And you used to be really, really great at not giving a damn, but that’s probably because you really didn’t give a damn. So now, your band coughs up this jaunty little ’80s throwback number that, yes, rips off A-Ha in a big way, but is still pretty neat, and what do you do? You sing in a half-assed falsetto absolutely no one in this solar system had any desire to hear, and come up with a whole four notes for a chorus. Apparently you realize how shitty this sounds, because halfway through the song you start to actually sort of sing some words—too bad you forgot to write a melody beforehand, right? Back to falsetto, then, and some godawful lines like “Show me what to see / Show me what to be.”

This song isn’t bad, Julian, but on this song you are bad. People aren’t going to buy this for long. No one is going to care how many albums per decade the Strokes release if your heart doesn’t start beating again in its cage. You once told us, at the very beginning of a great record, that you want to be forgotten. Keep this shit up and you just might.

► “One Way Trigger”