After brief hiatus, The Strokes produce new album, “Angles”

The Strokes produce new quality album, “Angles.”

Job Ang, Writer

“I’ve been down, around this town where everybody’s singing the same song for 10 years,” sings Julian Casablancas in The Strokes’ newest single.

And whether it’s a tribute to familiarity or a rant against those who cling only to the band’s 10-year-old material, it is a resounding “we’re back” message from the veteran New York indie rocker band.

After strained relations with one another and a prolonged hiatus that began after 2006’s “First Impressions of Earth,” The Strokes finally return with their fourth studio effort, “Angles.”

It is a fine collection of tunes that point to where the band has been, while hinting towards a new direction they could possibly be heading in the future.

“Machu Picchu” is a nod to The Police with its faux-reggae, indie eclecticism with Casablancas presenting the lyrics with uncharacteristic articulacy.

The chorus is classic Strokes material, with plenty of scratchy electric guitar work complimented by the band’s familiarly rock solid bass and rhythm section.

Coupled with sneering vocals, this is a welcome returning, opening salvo for The Strokes.
The aforementioned single, “Under Cover of Darkness” is a back-to-the-basics Strokes tune. Intentionally out-of-tune guitar licks scream with an in-your-face, don’t-give-a-care bombast, while Casablancas delivers his trademark howl and growl with his usual New Yorker cool.

After the summery chill of “Machu Picchu,” it seems a bit out of place, but is nonetheless one of the strongest tracks on the record.

“Two Kinds of Happiness” features a dull 80s sounding snare drum with a standard beat from drummer Fabrizio Moretti before the band bursts forth into a frenetic chorus. Casablancas takes more of a back seat in some ways for this song, acting almost like another instrument.

The band takes a different direction with “You’re So Right,” a harrowing track with a disconcertingly repetitious lyrical cycle. “Tell me what happened, tell me what happened, tell me what happened, if you like,” drones Casablancas, who manages to conjure up images of a night stalker with his musical storytelling in this song.

“Taken For a Fool” is a solid track, with a melody that sounds sentimental in a way that only The Strokes can manage to evoke. It’s not a standout song, but is nonetheless a good addition to the record.

“Games” is a Vampire Weekend-esque synth work in the vein of “Horchata.” Here, the band strays away from the trademark Strokes sound and takes a different sonic direction to good effect.

Casablancas stretches his voice to new heights, taking some cues from the style he acquired on his solo projects.

The first real dud on the album is “Call Me Back,” which sounds like filler elevator music. Meanwhile, “Gratisfaction” features gang vocals, an uncommon trait on a Strokes song.

The collaborative nature of the recording of this project is very apparent, and this song makes it clear that the rest of the band has become much more involved than in the past, when Casablancas used to meticulously micro-manage the recording process.

“Life Is Simple in the Moonlight” is another highlight on the record. Dreamy guitar work coupled with the most melodic vocals on the record bears strong resemblance to The Strokes’ past work.

It is also lyrically rich with Casablancas singing in abstract themes of detachment: “There’s no one I disapprove of more or root for more than myself / I wanted to pretend that it was better, better, better on the phone.”

“Angles” won’t jump out at listeners upon first listen; it will require several spins before it truly grabs its audience.

And though it probably won’t match “Is This It” in wide cultural influence, it is a strong addition to The Strokes’ discography, and is their best effort since “Room On Fire.”

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