The Strokes

Angles

Written by: PP on 30/03/2011 23:03:29

Lets just throw it out there straight away: if you don't like the first two The Strokes albums "Is This Is" and "Room On Fire", there's something wrong with your ears. Indie flavored garage/alternative rock just doesn't come any better than those two records, no exaggeration, which is why the band exploded from the underground into the mainstream seemingly overnight, today playing venues no smaller than arenas and stadiums regardless of which country they happen to be touring in. Now if you belong to the hater camp and think The Strokes suck, that's most likely because you've only heard their third album "The First Impressions Of Earth", a record comparable to a steaming pile of turd when it comes to enjoyable, and most of all, memorable moments. That album plain and simple sucks, it's a mediocre record that's about as memorable as a white sheet of paper five years after its release....though I guess everyone remembers how a white sheet of paper looks like? Hmm.

Anyways, after a long break, The Strokes have finally released their fourth album "Angles", a record that was always going to be a make or break sort of thing for this band. Either they'd prove to be a two-hit-wonder band that couldn't absorb the overwhelming success of their first two albums, resulting in a failed attempt to make their sound more suitable for a larger audience, or they'd write a record that's precisely what "Angles" is, a brilliant return-to-form album that should quiet all non-believers while proving once and for all that The Strokes are the kings of mainstream garage/indie/alternative or whatever the hell you want to pigeonhole them into.

We all remember the playful guitar tone from songs like "Is This It?", "Reptilia" or "12:51", right? Well, that's back on "Angles", big time. Take a quick listen to "Taken For A Fool", for instance, where the familiar semi-distorted croon of Julian Casablancas takes you back to their sophomore album while the inventive guitar melody is quintessential The Strokes just the way we love it: playful, eccentric, vibrant, buzzing, bright, spirited, festive, and so forth. Then you have songs like "Under Cover of Darkness" and "Two Kinds Of Happiness" which aren't just mega catchy in terms of the vocal interplay, but also contain innovative leads that add bright and fast-paced melody into what is otherwise an entirely conventional and traditional alternative rock song. It's this added element of quirk into the guitars, the bass and the occasional electronic beat that lifts The Strokes above their contemporaries and underlines why "Angles" is such a good album.

But what's even more curious is that The Strokes manage to travel through at least three different decades of music during the album without ever losing their signature sound. "Games", for instance, is like straight out of classic 80s synth pop, "Gratisfaction" has a 60s The Beatles vibe given its slow tempo, lo-fi soundscape and a poppy melody - and it's an instant classic given it's bouncy and infectious melody throughout. The modern hipster scene gets a nod, too, with a few electronica tracks. These are the weak points of "Angles", and the only reason why it doesn't score any better than it does. "Metabolism", for instance, is too dark and brooding to be as fun as any of the other songs mentioned so far. Same goes for "You're So Right", where the band experiments with strange electro sounds and, frankly, awful vocal work despite rescuing the song during the chorus from an absolute disaster.

All of this of course means that "Angles" is a grower. Though the melodies are memorable and long-lasting, they aren't always instantly so aside from a couple of examples. But that's what makes "Angles" stand out in my books, it has ability to intrigue and interest the listener long beyond the initial few listens. It's right up there with "Room On Fire", so although it occasionally toys with a slightly different sound to what we're used to hearing from The Strokes, it's all for the better.

8

Download: Under Cover Of Darkness, Gratisfaction, Machu Picchu, Two Kinds Of Happiness
For the fans of: Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes, The Thermals, Kings Of Leon
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.03.2011
RCA / Rough Trade

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