Out of nowhere, as if by magic and to the general disarray of us, The Strokes have popped up with a whole new 4-track EP of new material in Future Present Past. It’s been a few years now since the release of Comedown Machine, the last full album from the band, so the pop-up arrival of the new EP is a good sign that the New Yorkers have still got a few surprises up their sleeves.
If you’ve got Spotify you can listen to the EP in its entirety immediately, but if you’re not that kind of music fan then you’ll only have to wait until the 3rd June 2016 for the full release. It’s only available on either digital download or 10″ vinyl, so CD lovers will have to go rogue on this one.
The first thing you pick up on after a full run through of the tracks is that this is wholeheartedly an old-school indie garage rock Strokes recording and as ever it’s great to have them back. There’s only really three songs on Future Present Past – Drag Queen, Oblivius and Threat Of Joy – with the addition of a Fab Moretti-crafted remix of Oblivius, but there’s definitely enough for it to feel like another solid moment in the band’s history.
It kicks off with the dark bass and drum plod of Drag Queen, which doesn’t take too long to get into its stride. Casablancas’ vocals range from being slightly affected to absolutely crazy and to be honest it’s a good new addition to his front-man kit bag. The lyrics are as smart as ever with pretty good humour and it’s all delivered on the back of some ringing guitar notes and a waltzer spirit.
Oblivius is our pick of the tracks and it starts off with yet more crazy vocals and a tinkling riff, just to set conventions well and truly off the pitch. However, when the lead single from the EP breaks into the chorus it’s the very heart of indie rock genius. The middle eight is class and it all comes together to feels like the long lost baby in a floating hand basket from a hot summer love-fest between Room On Fire and First Impressions Of Earth. There’s a brilliant over-driven guitar riff solo that clips seamlessly into the faintest of hints at Julian Casablancas’ more recent electro influences.
The final original track on Future Present Past is Threat Of Joy, which continues with the oddball delivery. It’s got a jaunty garage pop tone and rambling lyrics that kind of indicate that despite the meteoric music legend status the band has, they’ve still managed to stay at least a little down-to-earth.
Fab Moretti’s remix of Oblivius is paired-down style with ambient tones, effects-tuned vocals and some good twists on what was already a great new track from The Strokes. It’s cast in a surreal, futuristic mold with the cascade of Korg-fueled additions and time-shifting manipulation. It’s a million miles from what you’d expect from the band, like Fab was temporarily mind-melded with Daft Punk for a moment or two and this is the result of his post-incident haze, but then there’s still a lot of their own sound and construction underpinning it.
Future Present Past is, as the name suggests, a contradiction in terms, but all of the element come together to deliver a great EP from The Strokes. It sounds distinctly like a continuation of every one of the previous albums, but with the genius of evolution taking it to new, head-mashing directions. It’s progressive in the extreme and we love the effort the band has put into doing things so differently, while still fitting into the space they’ve previously carved out for themselves. It’s raw and irreverent, yet tightly honed; sharp as the edge of a twisted can and hooked with strings, wires and sockets from a time machine hidden away in the basement of a little known club in the outskirts of Greenwich Village.
The Strokes, Future Present Past EP review: 4.7/5