It’s been a decade since The Strokes’ debut, Is This It?, shook a scene immersed in cock rock and pop starlets. The arrival of the New York quintet made The Strokes the juggernaut of “The” bands and Is This It? a bastion of hope in a rock world that lacked a fresh pair of balls and Chuck Taylors.
It’s been five years since their last release, First Impressions of Earth, left listeners wanting more, and after touring was wrapped the group didn’t lend much perspective on their future. After solo projects that made fans further question the future of The Strokes, the group releases Angles, and now they’re at it again.
Perhaps, we shouldn’t break out those black shirts with the neon Strokes logo just yet.
Parts of the album are left hanging. The best example is “Machu Picchu,” which gives the initial impression of the album with a Men At Work-friendly, yet vomit-inducing guitar progression. However, the chorus ushers an infectious guitar part that rescues and carries the rest of the song.
Nick Valensi and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. pick up the pace during the chorus of “Two Kinds of Happiness,” a song that could be a beautiful ode to new wave a la Ric Ocasek, but is otherwise a good time to take a break from the headphones. “Gratisfaction” would be a catchy tune if it wasn’t such a strange reminder of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In the Years,” and “Games” is such a snooze-fest filler on the album.
But, for an album whose musicians themselves admit could be better, Angles is still worth a listen.
Within the half-assed homages to ’70s and ’80s pop lays evidence of an obviously talented band taking a few practice swings, and there is plenty of diversity in the music, be it the moods or the throwbacks to past albums.
“Under Cover of Darkness” is a simple, foot-tapping sing-along reaching back to their Is This It? roots, and “Metabolism” is the twin brother of First Impressions’ adrenaline-happy “Electricityscape.”
“You’re So Right” is a trippy ditty in the vain of “12:51,” “Taken for a Fool” is a catchy, chant-worthy tune that’s probably a lost b-side for Is This It?, and “Call Me Back” is a quiet crooner with classic Strokes appeal that has Casablancas crying in the background of the instrumentals “Waking up is so much fun to do.”
The Strokes may have returned with a lackluster release, but Angles is still a decent record for the collection. Despite the few songs on Angles that are more similar to pop songs with mutations than authentic Strokes material, the album is, hopefully, a precursor to the better album Valensi feels the band is capable of creating.
The Strokes – Angles Tracklist:
- “Machu Picchu”
- “Under Cover of Darkness”
- “Two Kinds of Happiness”
- “You’re So Right”
- “Taken for a Fool”
- “Call Me Back”
- “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight”