There’s not very many bands that can take a 5 year hiatus in-between albums (alas The Stone Roses - The Second Coming) and still have their core fan base intact awaiting their return. With the constant demand for new music and the easy accessibility to it in this day and age, most musicphiles just simply move on.
Since the release of First Impressions of Earth , we saw a handful of solo albums from three fifths of The Strokes, none of which having any real lasting power that all pretty much came and went. With the new release of the band’s long-awaited 4th album, Angles displays an obvious slew of new influences, most certainly due to this album being a democratic effort opposed to Julian Casablancas solely taking the lead this time out.
Angles is a very scattered record and it completely stands out from anything we’ve ever seen from The Strokes. From track to track, the flow of songs jump back and forth from a very, new-to-The Strokes, 80’s New Wave synth to the post-punk garage clang that originally made the world take notice of this NYC outfit. To classify Angles in a single definition: It’s the love child of The Cars and Talking Heads with Thin Lizzy as a distant cousin.
Right from the first few bars of lead off track "Machu Picchu", you can totally anticipate Cars vocalist Ric Ocasek’s pipes to kick in, while second track and first single, "Undercover of Darkness", is where we’re hit with the familiar, hyper-bouncy-upbeat Strokes that wouldn’t sound out of place on 2001 debut, Is This It. From this point forward, the tone has been set.
For a band that’s been in the game as long as The Strokes have, and arguably making one of the top 10 best albums from the decade prior, you can’t help but admire a band that changes pace and experiments to alleviate any kind of repetitious monotony. But the longevity between albums that left the Strokes faithful pining for something new, Angles may be a little hard to grasp for anyone longing for vintage Strokes. It’s there, but not by much. Key tracks include "Taken For A Fool", "Gratisfaction", "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight", and the aforementioned, "Undercover of Darkness".
Allegedly the band has already started work on a follow-up to Angles as perhaps a half-decade apart has intensely kick-started creative juices. With Angles clocking in at just under 35 minutes, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn if this album was actually written in the studio or hammered out in just over a weekend. There’s nothing here that screams out they’ve had this one pent up for 5 years.
The album has already been called a masterpiece by some critics and the band’s best achievement since their spectacular debut from others. It’s possible this one’s a grower and takes multiple listens before branding it with excellence. As for this reviewer, and most definitely a Strokes fan, I’m still waiting.
Here’s hoping this collection is just a warm-up of what’s really to come.
2 out of 5