Album Reviews: The Strokes – Angles

Angles by The Strokes

Finally finally finally got around to listening to this. It’s not that I’ve been really putting it off, just been more busy than normal I suppose. Also, been kind of stuck on that “Natural Born Chillers” mixtape by the RapDragons for a couple weeks now. Maybe though, I was just a bit turned off by the album art that was clearly put together in a collaborative effort between MC Escher, MIA and David Byrne.

After the ridiculously long wait and the terrific first single “Under Cover of Darkness”, I was more  than a little excited for this one when I put the head phones on. Sadly, I’m not really sure that “Angles” ever duplicated the magic of “Under Cover of Darkness” or that original sound/essence of their earlier stuff that made them one of the best damn Rock n’ Roll bands to come out in my life time.

“Angles” substituted a lot of the gritty ease of The Strokes’ past efforts with some less than subtle electronic elements. A good portion of the album ended up sounding like a mix between The Strokes and Casablancas’ solo stuff. Although I thoroughly enjoyed  Julian’s solo debut, (and yes we are on first name basis. It’s chill.) I think that both sounds have their own place and I don’t want them watering eachother down.

The fairly (uncharacteristically)  cheery “Two Kinds of Happiness”. Is one of the albums bright spots. Despite being pretty heavy handed with the whole “Talking Heads” sound. At least it’s a good influence. Albeit a blunt one. The song alternates between calming sections with steady guitar/drums, breezy ohh ohhs, and Cars(esque) vocals, to invigirating guitar riffs that Casablancas’ trademark growl struggles to shout over.

“Gratisfaction” is another oddly appealing track that honestly sounds more like “The boys are back in town” by Thin Lizzy or even something that would fit right in on a Billy Joel album than it does anything from “Is this it”. The song has a dated classic rock bouncyness to it.  And when you combine Casablancas’ lyrical pacing and the way the symbol hits time up with the sylables during the chorus it gives the whole song a sort of ‘The Strokes doing Karaoke’ type of production value. At the end of the song (as with most of the album) I was left thinking, well that was kind of fun but….what the fuck?

In general “Angles” lows werent that low but most of  it’s highs were puzzling and quite frankly not that high. The influences were odd and layered on too thick, covering up the sound that I remembered The Strokes to have. And the songs that were a little ‘less shiny’ just weren’t as good as I remembered (“You’re so Right” being a prime example). At least there are a couple songs like “Under cover of darkness” and “Taken For a Fool” that help me remember what these guys are still capable of.

Two Kinds of Happiness

Gratisfaction

Angles: 2.5 out of 5

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