The Strokes | Angles (RCA)

Angles has been highly anticipated, facing huge expectations—and so the fact that it’s merely solid is slightly disappointing.

 

 

 

It actually seems longer than five years since the release of The Strokes’ last effort, 2006’s First Impressions of Earth. Maybe that’s because most of the members released side projects or solo albums that kept them in the spotlight. More likely though, it’s because First Impressions was not a good album and it has been a while since the band has released a quality effort. As a result, Angles has been highly anticipated, facing huge expectations—and so the fact that it’s merely solid is slightly disappointing.

Unsurprisingly, the guitar work is the heart of this album, as shown from the beginning with “Under The Cover Of Darkness.” This excellent choice for a first single is highlighted by classic Strokes’ dueling guitars, and it built my excitement for the album. They expand on this nicely and that which works on this album does so exceptionally well; the band absolutely knocks it out of the park with several of the tracks. “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight” wraps everything up perfectly, and “Gratisfaction,” an awesome, summer jam with a Rolling Stones feel, fits in very well. However, the absolute highlight of the album is the opener, “Machu Picchu,” an incredible upbeat jam that really reeled me in for the rest of the tracks. It definitely ranks with the best of the band’s work and shows they still have the ability to write awesome songs.

Oddly enough the drums seem to hold the album back in many ways, which is surprizing, considering that Fabrizio Moretti is a fantastic drummer. On Angles, Moretti doesn’t get to let loose the way he has in The Strokes’ past. At times the drums sound muted, like on “Taken For A Fool.” Even further, they don’t sound live, but programmed on “Two Kinds Of Happiness,” which doesn’t work for this band. From the album cover and some of the songs, you can feel the new wave influence here. It’s interesting, but new wave isn’t exactly a sound I would have picked to tweak my style if I were The Strokes. It doesn’t completely fail; in fact when it’s at its best on “Machu Picchu,” it works perfectly. However, it does give the album a disjointed feel.

Ultimately, the band seems to be trying to find a new voice, but never quite commits to it. They veer into new wave and classic rock at times, but then on other songs they seem reliant on their old style. Angles is confusing—it’s a solid album that never steers all the way into excellence. It will probably be viewed more harshly than it deserves, because considering the hype it is a disappointment. As a stand-alone record, though, it’s fairly solid and worth giving a chance. B | Brett Berliner

RIYL: Earlier Strokes, Guster, The Gaslight Anthem

 

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