TRACKING: The Strokes - "Tap Out"

SOUNDS LIKE: The Strokes makin' babies with Beyonce while Daft Punk watches... or something.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because it's The Strokes, still hard at work and hoping to stay relevant after a decade.

March 2013 saw the relatively quiet release of The Strokes’ new album on RCA, Comedown Machine. Its opening number, “Tap Out,” wastes no time hurling forth with a wild, vaguely Dove-Cry-era-Prince guitar wail – a perfect album opener. Immediately following that, Casablancas drops a riff practically and almost literally proclaiming, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.” From here, things keep looking up, as The Strokes layer their characteristically catchy, hook-laden vocals with more groove and guitar soloing goodness, making the album’s first foot forward a seemingly firm ‘80s-evoking one. Reinforcing this groove throughout is a nimble, restrained bassline underscoring what Nile Rodgers emphasized so well throughout his career and reminded us with his latest work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories: Sometimes it’s not what’s played, but rather what’s not played, that makes a number truly funky and solid.

While “Tap Out” is certainly one of Casablancas and gang’s catchiest recent numbers, it also doesn’t quite set the stage for a full-on album-as-such experience. There’s no slow build here – no setting of stages. The lyrics are somewhat veiled, but they also get right down to business, giving less of an impression that this is a journey, and more that this is a series of new Strokes songs – an impression confirmed by the somewhat disjointed transition into the following number, “All the Time.” Of course, for fans of The Strokes, that’s nothing to sneeze at. But, if you were hoping to hear Casablancas as journeyman, heading into uncharted creative directions, you may want to look Daftward for said direction, toward their brilliant new collaboration, “Instant Crush.” Watch this space for more on that.