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The Strokes – Angles

April 19, 2011

How tricky is it to talk about this album when it’s what everybody (fanatical or not) was talking about the week it came out? People were lying in wait for the mysterious 4th Strokes’ album, so you can imagine I heard as many critics as it is possible to hear. So I’m wondering how to start, what to say or not, and above all what I’m gonna write that you haven’t noticed yet…

The Strokes – Machu Picchu

Let’s have a quick flashback. Do you remember, ten years ago, when Is This it? was causing quite a stir? Well, just so you know, this time is over.  The press used to say the New Yorkers were coming to the rescue of rock music, which is by no means a small feat.  At that period of time, to me, Is This it? was what I’d call perfection as I never got bored of that album; full of good ‘pop songs with guitar,’ each better than the one before. Forty minutes of bliss.

The Strokes’ last album, First Impressions of Earth is five years old already, so at some point, I stopped expecting anything new from them. It has been too long since the rumours first said that a new record was coming out soon. After these endless years of waiting and some solo projects more or less unnoticed, The Strokes are back with Angles. Before the first single had even been revealed, I went so mad and worried that I prepared myself to be disappointed, which inevitably happened – a genuine disappointment. My first thought: “what a hollow piece of shit.”

What struck me about it were the radical changes (and please let’s forget about the video of  ‘Under Cover of Darkness’: the ridiculous staging and the new haircuts.) What we see first, what we talk about first; the artwork, the bloody artwork! How do they end up agreeing on that filth as a first impression of the album? If I ignore the fact that it’s the Strokes’ new album artwork, it clearly reminds me what we used to do in first form, in technology lectures. Never mind. Worse is to come; grainy, super-sexy Julian’s voice turned into an overrated and shallow James Blake-ist voice. It seemed that what I used to like in their previous three albums and two dozen killa tunes went away. Very quickly I started regretting high school years; when listening to The Strokes was listening to the virtuosic Hammond Jr.’s guitar solos and unforgettable riffs.

At the very bottom of my unconscious, I was still hoping to have shivers from the first listen of Angles.  But as nothing was exciting – making me bounce or making me want to sing over the song – I just kept on going, just because I believe in them so much. It’s sad, but don’t you dare tell me that to my face because when you like a band, you’re ready to do anything to stand up for them, giving them excuses even if you’re really skeptical about their new stuff.

Anyway, by dint of furious energy and after two weeks of digestion, Angles turned out not to be that terrible, even good enough to allow it to appear on my Last.fm weekly top albums…

The Strokes – Games

It’s hard to admit but I never realized before recently how monotonous The Strokes’ albums can be. Not especially in a bad way though, just that the drumbeats are pretty much the same all along the albums. What’s new with Angles is not that drummer Fabrizio Moretti evolved into being the drummer of the century, but more that each song now has its own attribute: you can actually hum a particular song and people will recognize it. However, I wish Julian’s voice was lower and more orgasmic, as it used to be. I find it too detached from the instruments, but I guess we can explain this by the fact Julian Casablancas has been recording his voice separately from the rest of the band. But yet, he’s not able to let out his voice like on ‘Last Nite’ anymore. As everything’s got an explanation, years of touring and alcohol might have a big consequence on the damage of a voice. Shame.

We can blame them for anything but we can’t reproach them for using the easiest way of coming back; with the same typical rock hits as a few years ago.

They took a risk with new electronic sounds but I don’t think it was on purpose. They didn’t mean to revolutionize their music; they played like they like to do it, and simply had better production – that’s it. Also, this is a messy and arduous album mixing sublime Strokes-ish songs with some kind of bad replicas of other bands (Born Ruffians or Radiohead.)  Tunes ‘Machu Picchu’, ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ and ‘Games’ are remarkable and are standing out of the rest of the album. When ‘Metabolism’ sounds just like a remix of ‘Heart in a Cage’ (First Impressions of Earth – 2006), I’m wondering why on earth they wrote ‘You’re So Right.’ We just want more insistent rhythm like on ‘Gratisfaction.’

The Strokes – Gratisfaction

In case you didn’t understand a word of what I said (because I’m not sure of my own opinion of Angles), I’ll just let you know that The Strokes didn’t lose their personal and unique sound. Even if they seem to be more into fashion than into music (and they do look like models with guitars), I love what they do to music.

In the end, yes I’m convinced; this album is not a disaster and might even be considered a success.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Paula permalink
    April 20, 2011 10:26 am

    Angles features SOME good tunes in my opinion. It’s so hard to enjoy an album from start to finish. There is always at least one song that we like less than the others. And what a satisfaction it is when finally the perfect album comes along! The one that we never get tired of listening, the one that is just perfect, with 100% perfect songs! Well…this was a random thought, just to say that in the end I think I’m going to keep some of Angles in my Itunes, not the whole album. You know…space saving issues!
    Goob job on the article!

  2. jouliejools permalink
    April 20, 2011 9:37 pm

    I know what you mean and nowadays it’s rare to find a perfect album so let me know if you have any suggestion of albums you could say is perfect. I’m up for listenning to your advices, because from what I heard so far you seem to have similar tastes as me!

  3. April 23, 2011 9:06 pm

    HAHA I’m not sure his new voice is due to alcohol… Cause actually, he sings better, technically, I mean. It’s maybe just an impression, I think he has more possibilities than before….

    But, infortunately, it has lost all its charm… Anyway, I love this album.

    And great article as always! (anglais niveau lycée, t’as vu.)

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