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Album Review

by The Strokes


Review Date
1st June 2011
Reviewed by
Vincent Michaelsen

Even now, sometime after the release of Angles, why The Strokes decided to make this album remains a contentious issue. After a lengthy hiatus, the band has put out an album none appeared to enjoy recording and one they neither seem particularly pleased with as a finished product. Valensi claimed that making the album was “just awful” in reference to the segregation of band and singer during the recording process, and Casablancas calling the record a “labour” which contained “heaps of stuff I wouldn’t have done”, had he had his way. So why do it? Considering the group has spawned myriad solo projects since First Impressions of Earth, who’s collective catalogue has quickly outgrown The Strokes themselves, it seems unlikely that fame, money or girls could have pulled the five together for another round. So all that’s left really is the simple ideal of being ‘The Strokes’, and why the hell not? They were the legends of a musical era and probably the coolest band of the last decade.

Angles definitely does show the band at times attempting to break the mould they’ve so firmly set for themselves. ‘You’re So Right’ and ‘Games’ are both far from the norm with a retro-future sound to them. The latter, a track heavily relying on drums, bass and synth like guitars is pretty cool, it’s darker and dancier than anything they’ve released before but it does work. The former is probably the greatest divergence from past work and sounds like a 2D graphics computer game which has frozen at full volume. While not an altogether convincing new sound, the song is at least a refreshing listen compared to tracks like ‘Call Me Back’. A tune which captures the album at it’s dullest, and seems to directly relate to the bands current trouble in getting along with one another as Casablancas bemoans “No one has the time, someone’s always late”.

In the album’s single ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ as Casablancas sings “I’ve been out around this town, and everybody’s been singing the same song for ten years“, we know it’s hardly debatable, at least when you look at the music of The Strokes. It’s probably one of the more ‘Strokesy’ sounding tracks on the record and not a particularly good one. Most of all, this track sounds designed to recapture the carefree hit-making energy of Is This It but ends up sounding formulaic and is good for little more than the quite cool Weezer-ish solo towards the song’s end. ‘Gratisfaction’ however, is a good song far more worthy of hit single status. Its 70’s glam swagger, though not really typical of the band, seems to better represent what is great about The Strokes.

Writing this review I can’t help but feel some pangs of guilt and sorrow for The Strokes, as by any standard this is still an alright album. But the attention these dudes pulled a decade ago will forever haunt the moves they make, thus taking the album down a few notches in comparison. And what is sadder still is the irony of how their detached and uninterested attitude that helped them cream it those years ago has now become their downfall, despite best efforts to revive their career, they have become just that – detached and uninteresting.

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