The Strokes - One Way Trigger - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

The Strokes - One Way Trigger

by Amy Putman Rating:6 Release Date:2013-02-11

When I first heard this track I wanted to love it. That is, I did love it at first, but somehow by the end of the song I felt empty and uneasy; there was something discordant about the initial love, a nagging dull throb of disappointment. When you sit back and click play, it all starts so well. A husky, lo-fi count-in is the perfect intro for the musical surprise that follows; a jubilant, happy electro tune which seems 'made with bouncing', as Dr Marten says.

It is undeniably 80s; not just-80s influenced but like The Strokes have gone back in time and lifted someone's forgotten track, made it half a beat faster, and sung into a hairbrush over the top, dancing round their bedrooms in their pants. They sensibly give you a short space to enjoy this, allowing you to revel in its jaunty, ahistorical pulse, its upbeat melody and the tricks your mind plays on you - have you heard it before, or do you just wish you had?

After this sweet, squeaky overture with more than a little in common with the soundtrack to Mario, the vocals pop in, still upbeat and smile-inducing. The aesthetic is a cross between rock falsetto and sweet Swedish indie-pop. It has power and grit, but somehow also seems gentle and adorable, like a choir boy giving his granny a cake laced with cocaine and asbestos dust. It works perfectly with the backing music, subtly detracting from the 80s vibe without undermining the reference. It buys the song a swift flight into the 21st century without pushing it jarringly into being wholly 2013. Allowed to swivel between times like Marty McFly, this song is somehow both and neither; it should be confusing but actually convinces - a testament to the mix. The vocals draw the listener into the lyrics while allowing the sunshine and computerised lollipop music to continue to shine.

By way of a chorus, we are given a soaring, tuneful wail which adds a dash more rock into the mix. Not traditional rock, obviously - that would have been jarring - but rock according to the likes of Muse or Radiohead. So far so good, and the delicious cocktail is finished off with some cherry-sweet guitar and a dash of excellent drumming. All it lacks is a cocktail umbrella. Unfortunately, this is where it all starts to go wrong. The song drags. Not just a little drag. No, this song drags like pushing a car up a hill in a blizzard, or finding out you have to redo a month's worth of work.

The simple fact is that is goes on far too long. The excitement and vigour morphs into acceptance and ennui. Then something subtle in the vocals changes - more high notes, less rhythm, less grit - and the entire song starts to sound like the kind of cheap, laughable pop heard in the early 00s in the tacky end of the gay circuit. In their defence, The Strokes finish the track with panache and beauty. The song climaxes splashily and showily with a beautiful sequence of plain notes which sound like a robot processed all the works of Gary Newman, Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode and expressed using the minimum notes possible, with an economy and simplicity which transcends the musical to produce the sublime.

The problem I have with this track is mostly one of disappointment. It was so close, so almost wonderful. In that respect, perhaps I am being unfair in my points allocation. After all, there is much merit here. But I can't help but feel that with a little more care and attention, this record could have been something truly beautiful. It a sad fact of life that it is not those who fail miserably, but those who come close and just miss who are the biggest disappointments.

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