On Feb. 10, at the Bernie Sanders rally in New Hampshire, The Strokes announced the upcoming (April 10, to be exact) arrival of their newest album, “The New Abnormal,” and the release of a new single, “At the Door.” This is following their 2016 EP “Future Past Present” and their 2013 album “Comedown Machine.”
Maintaining their core sound, the first single is comparable to many classic Strokes songs like “Someday” from the album “Is This It.” Interestingly, the song seems to slightly take an early 2000s punk twist, owing to a backing track that shares many characteristics of songs by The Killers or Muse.
“At the Door,” above all, is about overcoming trauma and coming of age, and the singer seems to imply that it is a lonely process. The song claims that the singer had been helping others, particularly a past romantic interest, through this process of healing, being used metaphorically “like an oar.” It is only now that he realizes the detrimental impact of his personal neglect.
The title of the single strengthens the imagery of crossing the threshold. The side of the door the singer is stuck behind seems dark and unforgiving, described as a “cold road.” The singer is stuck behind this door, begging for someone to let him in. Yet the song leaves ambiguous whether or not the other side would be an improvement.
The animation of the music video released alongside the single is reminiscent of ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons, like “He-Man” or “Scooby Doo.” It opens with a young boy being greeted at the door by the Grim Reaper. Initially, he was very clearly afraid. As the video progresses, the boy becomes less fearful of this figure of death ahead of him. There is an obvious hardening of the child, perhaps implying a loss of innocence and a growing realization about the reality of the world.
Paralleling this dissolution of childhood is the recurring image of a rabbit being chased by a monstrous animal, a grotesque version of a rabbit. The monster eventually scratches him on his eye, but he continues to fight through the brush until the rabbit escapes. However, for the remainder of the video, the rabbit is seemingly haunted by this event, constantly running from an oncoming storm and scanning behind his shoulders for similar nightmarish creatures.
In both cases, there is a clear loss of purity, a childlike innocence. The entirety of the video seems to promote this negative perception of growing up, as if it must be accomplished through some form of tragedy or hardship.
The song concludes with the repetitive idea of “waiting,” as if implying a lack of agency in the maturing process. Only when the tide comes back in will he be free from his burden.
After a few bad albums and internal fights, The Strokes seem to have found their way back again.
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