Artist: The Strokes
Label: RCA/Rough Trade
Editor’s note: We’re about 50/50 on this album, so here are two of our writers’ opinions. Be sure to check out Angles to make up your own mind and let us know on which side of the coin you fall!
Over the past decade, The Strokes have carved out a niche as being 21st century indie/garage rock pioneers. With three critically acclaimed releases between 2001 and 2006, it seemed as if the New York City quintet were taking over and redefining modern rock music. However, the latter part of 2006 saw the band go on an extensive hiatus, allowing members to work on various other projects, none of which saw the success The Strokes had produced as a whole. Early in 2009, it was announced that the band was back together working on their fourth full-length, Angles. While it’s fair to say that this release is a departure from what long-time fans of The Strokes would come to expect from the group, they do maintain aspects of their trademark groove throughout the record.
The change in sound can be recognized immediately on the opening track, “Machu Picchu.” The danceable beat with an almost reggae-like rhythm being filled in on guitar came as a sonic surprise. Once the chorus is reached, however, thefeeling changes into that all too familiar garage rock sound the Strokes have become widely known for. The same vibe continues itself into the second track, “Under Cover of Darkness,” which also happens to be the first single from the album. This puts the listener back on comfortable ground, with catchy melodies being churned out by guitarist Nick Valensi, and front man Julian Casablancas presenting his distinct and familiar vocal howls to keep traditional fans satisfied. Songs such as “Two Kinds of Happiness,” “You’re So Right,” and “Games” find the band exploring new sonic characteristics, enlisting various synthesized sounds and drum machines. Even though the actual tones are quite different, the melodies and chord progressions being played are somewhat true to the bands classic sound. In an age where singles are the norm, the Strokesshow the importance of track arrangement over the course of an entire album, with no consecutive song sounding quite likethe last. “Taken for a Fool” is perhaps the highlight of the record, with Casablancas’ recognizable singing-through-the-phone vocal tones that were ever present on their first release Is This It.
Though the album may be difficult for a hard headed traditional fan of The Strokes to get into, the band keeps the entire record quite interesting while maintaining the feel that has brought the band international fame and notoriety. The semi-experimental steps taken to color a little outside the lines don’t feel forced and add to the overall quality of the record. For a band that seemed almost too comfortable in its own shoes, it’s nice to see that they have embraced a certain element of danger in branching out and discovering an enjoyable new sound.
Biscuit Rating: 4/5
Written by Brad Walker
After five years the riff heavy indie rock band The Strokes are back with their fourth album,Angles, via RCA. If you are looking for another Is This It or even their critically acclaimed sophomore album Rooms on Fire, then don’t bother. Angles sounds like Phoenix b-sides in which they were trying to sound like The Strokes. Entertaining, okay. Smart, eh. With a five year separation from the mediocre First Impressions On Earth, you’d think that the band would’ve grown up and learned that they needed to take another direction but I guess they never actually listened to that album. With copy-cat riffs, same progression compositions and what should be feel-good indie pop music, Angles finds itself sitting on the shelf beside the much hyped Toro Y Moi album Still Sound this year.
The only real entertaining songs off of the album are “Two Kinds of Happiness” (maybe because I’m a sucker for 80′s sounding electronic drums and R.E.M) and “Gratisfaction” which finally, coming in as the eighth song, gives you the bass line and coinciding riffs you’ve been waiting for, even though the chorus is god awful, the song would be an amazing instrumental jam, and that’s kind of what this album should be.
This album might be for you, but definitely not for me, and this is coming from a huge Strokes fan. I guess I was hoping for more of a “Let’s show them we still have it!” instead of a “Let’s sound like these hip jabronies.”
Biscuit Rating: 2/5
Written by Ryan Donar