The Strokes: “At the Door”

In the nearly two decades since they debuted, the Strokes have survived bad albums, personal quibbles, subsequent solo projects, and even false (re)starts. But their lineup and core sound always remained the same, even if it often felt like the New York quintet were desperately trying to cling to some lost magic as the years went on.

On the lead single from their first album in almost seven years, “At the Door” sounds like the Strokes are—once again—done trying to be a Strokes cover band. They know it too, opening the song with a methodical synth line that gives way to Julian Casablancas’ familiar droll tone. The verses are reminiscent of the frontman’s (much-maligned) pre-Voidz solo album Phrazes for the Young, but his bandmates ensure the chorus retains the circular, nostalgic feeling of one of their classics, even if Fab Moretti’s drums are totally absent. “Not tryna build no dynasty,” Casablancas sings, a hint of self-awareness seeping into his voice. “I can’t see beyond this wall, but we lost this game so many times before.” And yeah, bringing in the guitar as Casablancas pleads for a chord might be too cute by half, but that mix of wan passion in his chorus hits a sweet spot the band has missed for almost a decade.

Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic