So I have a weird relationship with the Strokes. The radio singles off of Is This It are bastions of my early adolescence, and I always think of them fondly, despite never having really committed any time the full album (I didn’t listen to albums back then! It was Napster-times).
Their sophomore effort, Room On Fire, was a staple of my sophomore year in high school, right when I was first getting into music. Rock-sold opening set of tracks, and then rest weren’t bad either.
I was really bummed about First Impressions of Earth though. There wasn’t anything to really anchor me to the record, and so I was just kinda “meh” about the whole thing.
So where does that leave me now? Historically, the Strokes are still batting well above .500, but they’d been out of the game for a while, and their most recent record seemed (to me) to perhaps indicate why. For old times sake, though, Angles seemed worth a shot.
The opening track of the record, ‘Machu Picchu‘ is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. The attitude and spunk with which the song is delivered really makes it seem like the band had something to prove; a task which I’d say the accomplish with flying colors. Not to mention my favorite guitar riff on the album over the chorus.
The first single, ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ also sounds great. It’s perhaps one of the best examples of everything we known and love about the Strokes. Noodly riifs, percussion that’s not afraid to go a little wild in places, and everything that Julian Casablancas brings to the vocals, it’s all there.
Those are the two easiest tracks to digest, everything else is a little… more. ‘Two Kinds of Happiness’ bounces back between a Cars-homage and a soaring, bombastic Bono-type affair; they pull it off, the track is pleasant to listen to, it’s just a little odd. ‘You’re So Right’ is a creepy song, not in content so much as sound; good, but again kindof odd.
The other song I wanna share is ‘Taken For A Fool‘, because it has a really cool grove to it. This once more has a pretty distinct departure of the verses from the chorus, but I think it works a lot more smoothly, and the track comes off as really polished.
My favorite part is the little ‘run’ at around 1:30 into the second verse. The following song, ‘Games’, is essentially “The Strokes Do The 1980s in Just Under Four Minutes,” which I mark as the last really noteworthy track on the album.
‘Call Me Back’ is a pretty plain downer slow track, ‘Gratisfaction’ a desperate grab to recapture Queen-era sheen (at least it’s not MIKA-bad though, ugh…), and honestly I don’t remember anything else about the last two tracks despite listening to them 5 times, so whatever.
Somewhere out there is a quote from one of the members about how the record’s name came from the fact that everyone took their own approach to writing materials for the record. Suffice to say, it shows. There is a lot of interesting, creative work going on in Angles, but there is next to no cohesion between any of the songs.
The Strokes have proven quite handily that they are still relevant to the music scene that they helped build, but it remains to be seen if they are still the best at what they do.
Now that they’re “back”, they’ve mentioned in interviews that they plan on getting another album out ASAP, which I think is the right mentality. It’ll be interesting to see what these guys can produce when they aren’t coming off such a long hiatus and are actually working together.