This last Tuesday one of the most anticipated records of 2011 was released. ‘Angles’ by The Strokes is their first record since 2006’s ‘First Impressions of Earth’. The band went on hiatus after a extensive tour until 2010 when they started to collaborate once again for the new record. The Strokes were essentially the first big band of this millennium, and ‘Angles’ shows they are still capable of producing quality music for generations down the road to enjoy. However, ‘Angles’ comes with a different style of music, writing process, and personality that many older Strokes fans might prefer leaving before taking.
The record starts with the heaviest hitting new-wave track on the record, called Machu Picchu, features a signature Strokes guitar riff after the chorus that is surely to keep you from changing the track. “Wearing a jacket made of meat,” Julian wails before going into the chorus, which has a subtle bongo that heavily grooves. It’s really only their first single from ‘Angles’, Under Cover Of Darkness, that is the only classic/traditional Strokes track within the album. In it the song builds up until the chorus and features some of the best work by Nic Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., the guitar players in the band, who really played adroitly in creating this classic.
The Strokes really throw a curve ball with another very 80s sounding, Tom Petty-esque, verse to begin the song Two Kinds Of Happiness. Eventually, they go back to original form in the chorus, but not before throwing a heavily reverbed bridge in between. The next song seems to be somewhat of a filler for the album, and is entitled You’re so Right. The song features lo-fi drums, heavy effects on the vocals, and little other musicianship – and the first time you hear the mp3 you must wonder if it’s just a horrible sampling rate – but even the vinyl isn’t sonically much better for this one.
They kick it back to gear with the classic Strokes style; Albert Hammond Jr. playing the rhythm, while Nic Solos the melody that Julian sings along to. The Chorus has a very antiquated sound two it, with Fabs driving snare. The next track, entitled Games, starts off with electronic intro that could be mistaken for a Cut Copy song. The verse features no guitar and Fabs drums sound like they are on a Smiths record. Julian shows off his vocal range in this one as well hitting notes that many rock n’ roll front-men would be envious of.
The bottom half of the record is as diverse as the first half; featuring a superb simple song titled Call Me Back, which turns out to be the most relaxed and easy to sing along to on the record, by far. The group vocals that chant, “You never gonna get my love!”, on the next song sound like it should be on a beer commercial or something – but the swagger of Julian on the verse makes it far too cool for any commercial (fingers crossed). In the second to last song they take a page straight from their ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ book, featuring heavier guitar riffs and signature distorted vocals wailing throughout the whole song. The track could easily replace a song like Juicebox on First Impressions without skipping a beat. The last song of the LP was played on SNL a week ago with a disappointing response. In The Moonlight is much better on record than during that specific performance, but still is far from The Strokes best creative efforts. Yet, this song does feature one of the most superior solos on the entire record, but can’t save it from ranking just as slightly above par as a whole.
‘Angles’ really should be considered overall as a great feat by The Stokes, which for the first time yet on a record, all collaborated and creatively had input (Julian did all the writing in their 3 previous LPs). While not every song is a knock-out, the music world is still the better for these guys getting back together. Nevertheless if you are the type of person that thinks a band should remain to sound similar to their “best” work that was made ten years ago, you might be slightly disappointed with this LP, but because people (and bands) undoubtedly change with time and you can’t expect someone to want to do anything more than once. When all is said and done ‘Angles’ remains a phenomenal record, and while your ears will still know who you are listening to, it is decidedly different from anything The Strokes have ever created prior – but in a completely positive manner.
(It should also be stated that the vinyl of this record far exceeds the corresponding mp3 version, to the point where it’s completely worth the purchase. ‘First Impressions of Earth’ and ‘Is This It’ don’t nearly sound as different as ‘Angles’ does in terms of the audio-quality of the vinyl vs mp3.)
Written by Spencer Brynes