Back to Nature

To get an idea of where I’m coming from, check out my review of Phrazes for the Young over at the Cardinal, but in retrospect I really missed the point I meant to get on. The title is an embarrassingly transparent embodiment of what I meant to say but ended up rambling too much to actually get across.

I think of it like a Hobbesian musical State of Nature in which we (or, rather, musicians) are born with certain faculties and their objective is to make concessions until each is reconciled in a coherent body (actually more Kantian than Hobbesian. Whatever). The Leviathan is the perfect marriage of style and substance, sincerity ascribed to whichever is the strength. In other words, Is This It?.

Even if a Strokes reunion is as catchy and buoyant as “11th Dimension” like I hope for in the article, I can’t help but worry that it’s going to be at the cost of everything that made me care about the Strokes in the first place. His appearance on Conan was such a nervous Tom Jones impersonation that it would’ve looked like Barry Manilow at the Copa if not for the drummer’s egregious hodgepodge of fashion clichés. His LA/NY clothing split is synecdochic of their attempted universal appeal; but style is specific to a niche, and when something gets stretched across too many borders it loses its depth and value (case in point: flannel). The group’s attempt at cross-cultural swag is a contradiction of style in itself.

Julian’s buoying around the same boat, wearing necklaces, a tailored leather coat and streaks in his hair. It’s punk chic and it’s stupid. He lost his hell-bent disregard for emotions, but he also lost his functionality, which makes his style void of a social contract. He’s back in the State of Nature, hanging out with Brandon Flowers, probably.

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