The Strokes - Angles

Album cover
The Strokes
Angles
The Strokes - Angles Review rating:
3.5
User rating:
Average: 4 (4 votes)

The irony is almost too much to bear when Strokes front-man Julian Casablancas utters “Everybody's been singing the same song ten years ” on the excellent first single “Under Cover Of Darkness” off their pretty decent fourth full-length Angles. After a somewhat extended hiatus that saw various Strokes entertain numerous side projects the famed New York pop-rockers have returned in fine form. Considering how much of a clunker First Impressions of Earth was, it was somewhat relieving to hear outcries of a “return to roots” from The Strokes camp. Followed by the subsequent release of aforementioned first single—which for all intents and purposes is an Is This It?-era Strokes tune—Angles looked like it was destined to be a return to garage-rock leaving First Impressions as the misguided-albeit-ambitious runt of the litter. While the record is not breakdown doors, bust-open-windows good it possesses a collection of extremely strong singles, some obvious yet still rewarding filler tracks and only a few goofy missteps. Overall coming across as a successful shake-off of any rust and a vibrant return from a band who look to have a lot of fuel left in their tank.

The band has stated that the songwriting process with Angles was approached in a democratic way that saw Casablancas forcefully relinquish his near-sole control over writing duties and shoehorn the other four members into the creative process. Or the band as seen from different “angles.” This shift in the course affords the record a definite individuality when compared to The Strokes other LP's as Angles finds them experimenting even more with electronic instrumentation. With checks to psychedelic-indie-pop contemporaries like MGMT and Crystal Castles, The Strokes expand their palette, for better or for worse. Yet generally handle each of these forays with confidence and class. It is only the deluded brit-pop of “Call Me Back” and the grandiose Gregorian-choir adorning the Muse-esque “Metabolism” that stand out as glaring mistakes. Yet the rest of Angles collectively holds up pretty well.

“I'm just trying to find/A mountain I can climb,” Casablancas reveals to us on album standout “Machu Picchu.” Interesting considering how much of a career Julian has built championing the laissez-faire. Yet between their last two albums The Strokes ambitions to escape the illustrious shadow of Is This It? are more than apparent. Bassist Nikolai Fraiture recently stated in an interview with Zane Lowe that "[Angles] Sonically, I feel it's the album which should have been made between Room on Fire and First Impressions of Earth," which on paper makes sense. Angels totes the same progressive-new-wave as First Impressions yet is decidedly more haphazard, in many ways more akin to their sophomore release. The groove-centric guitar-pop of “Taken For a Fool” or the bouncy Cars-meets-Kinks fervor of “Two Kinds Of Happiness” would settle right along side most of Room On Fire's track-list. While the electro-pop of “Games” and glam-rock quirkiness of “You're So Right” could have otherwise been the stand-outs from Casablancas' dance-friendly solo-album.

With Angles though, The Strokes take all these dissimilar traits and tropes, ones reasonably foreign to them and mash it all together under a single guise. And while albeit disjointed the band has effectively placed themselves on a path towards a goal many had written off as impossible after they criminally miscast The Strokes as “one-note.” This prize being to craft an album that removes the band from their debut's legacy while still retaining a sense of originality and kick-starting this “post-garage” Strokes. While Angles has certainly not fulfilled all of this criteria it looks as though The Strokes are on the right track—which is worlds better than what could have been said following their last album. And with album number five already in the works The Strokes look as though they are ready to continue a career that once again is giving people something to be excited for.

1. Machu Picchu
2. Under Cover of Darkness
3. Two Kinds of Happiness
4. You're So Right
5. Taken For a Fool
6. Games
7. Call Me Back
8. Gratisfaction
9. Metabolism
10. Life is Simple In The Moonlight

The Strokes are an American rock band from New York City, New York, United States, formed in 1998. The band rose to fame in the early 2000s as a leading group in garage rock/post-punk revival. The band consists of Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (lead guitar), Albert Hammond, Jr. (rhythm guitar), Nikolai Fraiture (bass guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums and percussion).

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