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The Strokes strike back with new single 'One Way Trigger'

January 26, 2013|By Mikael Wood
  • The Strokes have released a new single, "One Way Trigger," their first since 2011.
The Strokes have released a new single, "One Way Trigger," their… (Facebook )

The reaction on Twitter to the new Strokes single has not been especially good. In fact, opinions of "One Way Trigger," which appeared on the band's website Friday, seem to be tending almost entirely toward the negative.

"aaaaahhh!! just listened to new strokes song called 'One waytrigger' and its veeeeeeery.................. bad," wrote one user early Saturday, while another said, "i am a strokes fan, but dont think im a huge fan of one way trigger." Even the positive(-ish) feedback has characterized the song as a rip-off of "Take on Me," the deathless 1985 synth-pop hit by Norway's A-ha.

Pop & Hiss is here to tell you these people are wrong. (Well, not about "Take on Me," but about everything else.)

The apparent lead track from the Strokes' follow-up to 2011's underrated "Angles," "One Way Trigger" finds these one-time New York neo-garage guys working several blocks over from their old Bowery Boy stomping ground. Along with fuzzy guitars we get blippy keyboards, and rather than croon in his familiar baritone, frontman Julian Casablancas stays mostly up in his falsetto.

The song can deliver a shock -- particularly if you tuned out for "Angles," which forecast some of those sonic shifts, and Casablancas's 2009 solo disc, "Phrazes for the Young," which demonstrated that he could do more than sound hung over. Beneath the cosmetic improvements, though, the Strokes in "One Way Trigger" are still exercising the commitment to precision that elevated them over most of their neo-garage peers.

Is it any wonder that Kesha hired Casablancas and drummer Fabrizio Moretti -- and not, say, the dudes from Jet -- to play on "Only Wanna Dance with You," from her recent "Warrior"?

Clicking and whirring like clockwork (or perhaps like the object in its title), the Strokes' song moves crisply through its changes, each arriving with the mixture of surprise and inevitability that defines so much great pop. There's nothing tentative about the tune's propulsive beat or the willfully dinky textures swarming around Casablancas' voice; it's all speeding forward with purpose.

And yet, as in many of its best songs, the band uses that musical determination to describe a state of emotional indecision. "You ask me to stay, but there's a million reasons to leave," Casablancas sings, offering yet another portrait of a guy who can't even make up his mind about whether he wants to make up his mind.

Unfortunately for him and his bandmates, that's not a problem the Strokes' fans appear to be having at the moment. Maybe their certainty will soften.

Listen to "One Way Trigger" below.


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