‘Under Cover of Darkness’: After Five Years, Here’s A New Song By The Strokes

by Eric Van Dril · 233 comments

Update: Yes, the site is down, but a few have received the song. Here is a link to the download of the full, HQ version of “Under Cover of Darkness”: Long live the Strokes (320 KBs). Updated

All right everyone, this is what we’ve been waiting for.

Permission to scream/piss yourself/faint in 3, 2, 1… LINK TO ‘UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS!!!

You can also stream UCoD on MySpace.

So… Is it everything you hoped?

Bonus: Nick did an interview with XFM almost immediately after the debut. You can download it here (Thanks, Laurena).

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pfft February 10, 2011 at 9:14 am

I’m not getting the idea thats floating around that this is a ska’d up Last Nite, I mean Albert’s verse part in Last Nite was essentially a ska/two tone rhythm infused with a great rock song?

The single is a tremendous return to form – not that The Strokes have ever had a bad release, First Impressions is criminally underrated – and the band have again shown that they can provide a song that is both complexed and simple at the same time, and I think if anything Julian’s sounding more interested given the crazy things he’s doing with his voice throughout UCoD.

And I’ve got a sneaky feeling this is mainly a Nick Valensi song given the wailing guitars in the intro and the whole “don’t go that way, I’ll wait for you” refrain being a reference to how everyone else in the band went to do their own thing musically but he didn’t??

2 annie February 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hey Tara – i’m totally with you on the strokes are back excitement!!!! I’ve been defending the song all along. I know what you’re saying but i think that they’re capable of even having that cultural impact with new music but my point was that they wouldn’t be able to do it if they were re-using the same influences that they had for Is This It with bands like The Velvet Underground and maybe a bit of Iggy Pop – they developed their music from sounds that had been pretty underground (no pun intended!) whereas other bands around 2000 were working with the kind of Nirvana scene against that pop/dance music. That’s why I think Julian’s been scoping out other influences – i know he said he was interested in creating a kind of futuristic sounding Thin Lizzy (which i’m not too sure about!) but I think he recognises that unless they move on they’ll never be able to sound new. I’m liking the new song mostly as a song on it’s own, i haven’t yet made up my mind as to what i think of it as a Strokes song, and i think i’ll wait till i hear the whole album. One thing i can’t help thinking, even though i really like the sound of it, is that it’s a little generic – as in, aside from Julian’s voice, i could imagine another band producing the same kind of song, which i never felt with Is This It or Room on Fire. Having said that, it’s one song and i’m totally aware that it’d be unfair to really judge them yet. I’ve always hated when bands are over-hyped and the Strokes definitely were – mostly by NME. I don’t think of them as a band who changed the face of rock and roll – maybe they changed the direction of its development for some bands but i think all of that hype has put undue pressure on the band. Where can you go from there if over-inflated pop music journalists are saying you’re the greatest thing to happen to music… it’s ridiculous. I appreciate them as an excellent band who create really great music that’s been the soundtrack to so many memories, but i’m wary of getting into superlatives about how they’ve changed the history of music. I think all of that stuff is just reductive. But, anyway, i’m holding out great hope for the album!! What will never be repeated is just the “new band” factor as they seemed to very rapidly come from nowhere to being on the front pages of magazines and i think that’s maybe what you’re saying and i totally agree with that. (One side thing though – I think Radiohead were massive with albums like The Bends etc just maybe to a slightly older crowd than what The Strokes were initially associated with). I think that as someone said above, the 5th album may be really significant as they’re getting into a new thing with this one and maybe they’ll be a little rough on certain aspects. Sorry, this is way too long – if i’ve still missed your point just ignore me 😉 I’m seriously excited about this song – I don’t think it’s a perfect Strokes song – but it’s growing on me all the time and I cannot wait for the secong song to be released next week and for the album in March!!

3 annie February 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

Wooahhh sorry, that comment was way longer than i even realised!!! I promise any other comments will be one-liners, if at all!

4 thevigilanteoflove February 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

What this song really shows me is that The Strokes, and Julian in particular, are incapable of writing a song that isn’t catchy.

5 Mike February 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

The song is one of their best ever. Now that I have that out of the way, I’d like to see if anyone has any can answer some questions I have. If anyone other than Jules is doing the background, it must be Albert — he is the only one who’s ever sang alongside Julian (way back in the Arlene’s Grocery Days). We know the songs are all written by at least more than one person, and I assume from the dueling guitar licks and meaty chorus this is a Casablancas/Hammond song. Does anyone know the writing credits? Does anyone know if that is indeed Albert doing the backing vocals? To see them perform it live, with Albert and Julian harmonizing? Fugget it! They would tear down SNL and Conan.

6 annie February 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

@Mike – totally agree, i also think it has to be an Albert and Julian song!! Maybe Nick does the seriously high part as I can’t imagine Albert’s voice hitting that but majority has to be Albert on backing vocals. And has all the sounds of both their music interests, i think.

7 sean February 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

i didnt know julian wrote any of the songs for this album?

8 clare February 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

@sean shit really?

9 Brian February 10, 2011 at 11:53 am

has anyone seen any new reviews from decent mags/sites/blogs.

the needledrop gave it an 8 which is pretty good. hes a pretty hard grader. pitchfork will review the track sonn and i hope it gets a best new track.

post anything new plz

10 clare February 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm

there’s nothing much new in it – guardian’s review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/feb/10/strokes-under-cover-darkness

11 alx. February 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm

After listening to it over and over again, I must say I like the song a lot.
But I do feel that the vocals have a kinda Phrazes for the Young feelin, which I like but I never heard Julian going so high. The verses have that ska sort of rhythm where Julian’s vocals are like spaced out to fit in the melody, that’s kinda different to what I’m used to from him. My favorite part is still the Chours (yes, the 30 minute preview); you may say it sounds generic but to me it just feels right.
Those high pitch guitars are crazy, the rhythm of the song is crazy it’s different but at the same time remains Strokes. I really like the song but I really need more songs man, fast!
In the website version there’s like a bump after the backup vocals are done…I hope that’s fixed for the payed download.

12 wolfman February 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm

when are we gonna see the doggone album art?

13 Eric Van Dril February 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm
14 Tanya February 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Hello Strokes Fans and Eric!

I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement because I read this site a lot (along with hte and shesfixingherhair etc) so please consider this a PSA instead. I go to school at Penn in Philly and I’m really involved in our student radio WQHS. Tonight from 8-10pm on my show All Fired Up my cohost and I will be celebrating the Strokes’ official return by having a “Strokes Bonanza”, we’ll be playing old stuff from them, their friends, and maybe some notable solo stuff, talking about the past 10 years and most importantly taking requests from you! If you choose to listen.
8-10pm EST on http://www.wqhs.org (click listen and open with itunes)
the request number is 215-898-3500.

DJ Boges

15 AunomdelaFrance February 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I have heard UCoD à thousand time now, and I had a quick heard of some song of the other LP.

Main difference: Contrary to the other songs, in UCoD, any chorus, any bridge, every part of the song are played differently. Other main difference, the complementary between the two guitars are high-developped, just like PFYT song’s. Now I’m sure it is a Casablancas song.

The meaning of the lyrics is simple : Strokes are back, and I think this is why they pick this single infirst. For the way UCoD have been thought and for the luxury of every little variations, this is their best song.

16 Eric Van Dril February 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm

@Tanya — That sounds like a great idea. I wish I didn’t have to work tonight. Anyway, I just posted the link and hotline number on my Twitter account. Hope you guys have a great show tonight.

Do you guys have a podcast I could download? Now that I heard Zane play The Strokes yesterday, I’m addicted to hearing them on the radio.

17 Tanya February 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

We don’t normally but for you I’ll personally have the show recorded and send you a link through this comments section or your email if you prefer.

Also if the phone lines are tied since we only have a couple, another good way to make requests is through aim, the screen name, ‘wqhs’

Thank you so much for supporting us Eric! We’ll give you a personal shout-out.

DJ Boges

18 Eric Van Dril February 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

@Tanya/DJ Boges — That’s very nice of you. I’ll happily take the recording (and post it, if that’s OK with you). I was initially going to request that you don’t give me a shout out, but if you do, can you please play Ize of the World? I don’t think anybody’s ever heard/played Ize on the radio.

And why do they call you DJ Boges?

And can I request

19 Brian Wallace February 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I’d like to paraphrase an old Strokes song title: “You ANALYZE way too much.”

Jeez. Some of you are analyzing each SECOND of the song. It’s a good song. Stop trying to figuring it out to death! “It sounds like this” “Albert wrote this.” “I’m worried about their direction.” “Nick sings background.” “Julian’s voice is too high.” “Julian doesn’t sound drunk enough.” “I don’t like that one note.” “I’m really worried about ‘Angles’.” ENOUGH! Some of you are talking like you KNOW for CERTAIN EXACTLY how the relationships in the band are. We don’t know ANYTHING.

And the LYRICS! Jeez. “Ulysses” hasn’t been as analyzed as much as the lyrics to “Under Cover of Darkness.” Who knows what they’re about? Who cares? Sure, they may be autobiographical. Or they could be complete nonsense. Either way, why get your panties in a bunch about it? It doesn’t change anything and just causes more anxiety.

I don’t really understand the Julian’s vocals are buried bit. Haven’t any of you ever listened to “Exile On Main St?”

The Strokes are a great band. They’re a FUN band. They’re releasing and performing new music. It looks like they’ll be releasing new music more frequently. Let’s just be happy with that. Please?

Some of you would be disappointed at the Resurrection.


20 Brian Wallace February 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I’ll listen, DJ Boges. I’m in Philly, too. Penn, huh?

Can I make an early request?

“Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men” by Regina Spektor and The Strokes or an early live version of “The Way It Is” (before it was recorded for “Room On Fire.”)


21 Tanya February 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Tanya is my first name, Boges is an annoying nickname I acquired from my last name (Bogin)

We’ll absolutely play Ize of the World, and you can post the recording too!

22 Tanya February 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

@Brian Wallace
Certainly. I have a home recording of The Way It Is but you want live right? I’ll scour my files for a live recording, so far theres the 2002 gig at Reading but there’s probably more.

23 Brian Wallace February 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm

No. That’s fine. Please don’t search for anything. I really look forward to enjoying your show and whatever you play. I just remember when they played it before they recorded it (on late “Is This It” dates) it roared more. The best version I ever heard was at the HFStival in 2002. Kind of like this:


Good luck.


24 Mykel February 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Oh shit, i totally forgot about the late night preformences. I’m even more pumped now.

25 Legrand February 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm
26 Tara February 12, 2011 at 5:01 am

Hey Annie; no you got what I meant fine and I agree with pretty much everything you said. Too much hype is ridiculous; like I refuse to listen to The Vaccines until everyone’s calmed down about how they’re “saving guitar rock”, so I can actually judge them fairly (hype didn’t really affect me with The Strokes as I only started listening to them in 2007 – I was 8 in 2001, and sadly not all that interested… although I do remember being simultaneously intrigued/repulsed by the Is This It album cover in Woolworths haha). Anyway, bring on ‘Angles’ and beyond 🙂

27 pub February 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

Does anyone know what the song is about? I don’t mean to gay the song up or anything but it seems as if it has something to do with a couple where the guy, voluntarily, is off to iraq and the girl is trying to talk him out of it.

28 pub February 13, 2011 at 12:33 am

But when I think of it this way, I remember some (old) video (based on a similar war theme) by Nickelback or some similar band and it just upsets me.

29 B.Lind March 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Honestly, and I know I’m going to get lambasted here, but this feels like the same old recycled themes, vocal melody phrasing, guitar work as so much of their other material. I know a band needs to have a signature sound and all that blah,blah,blah… and I’m a fan but this song doesn’t speak to me as new and fresh sonically. I agree with most people that first Impressions was seriously underrated but I think is mostly due to the fact that it was a a bit of a departure from the previous albums. I could be totally off-base, this is one song off the album yet to be heard, but if this is an indication of what’s to come, I can’t say I’m that excited.


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hey! Massive THANK YOUs! So far.. IM LOVIN IT!!!!

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