Words by Amanda Remling
After a five year wait, The Strokes have returned with their fourth album Angles. Releasing their single, “Under Cover of Darkness”, in early February and appearing on SNL last week, Julian and the gang seem to have put their conflicts aside and are ready to seduce fans again with their retro rock (and newly futuristic) sound.
Formerly leaving the writing to lead singer Julian Casablancas, the band collaboratively worked on the writing for Angles. The album also gained help from Grammy Award winning producer Joe Chiccarelli, who has worked with My Morning Jacket, The Shins, Manchester Orchestra and Minus the Bear.
Don’t expect The Strokes to be channeling their original sound though. While you can distinctly tell that Angles is a Strokes album, they have developed their tone into some kind of mix of electronic/80s/ futuristic.
The Strokes appear to be drawing inspiration not only from “The Lost City of the Incas” in Peru, but from Season 5 of Lost with the white, searing noise that introduces the first song “Machu Picchu”. A buoyant jingle, “Machu Picchu” will have you swinging your head along. The second track and first single, “Under Cover of Darkness”, has gained a warm welcome from fans. With an upbeat hip sound reminiscent of Is This It, it’s no wonder why they chose to release this song first. “Two Kinds of Happiness” keeps the upbeat tune, but sounds more like a song straight from my parent’s cassette player in the 80s. While a decent song, I feel that the only good thing that has ever come from the 80s “sound” was Eddie Murphy’s gem, “Party All the Time”.
Once again The Strokes mix up the tone with “You’re So Right”. Jumping on the electronic bandwagon that everyone seems to be riding recently, this track sounds like it was made for the backdrop of a video game. With lyrics like “tell me what happened” and “I still want to ask you something more”, the band has me asking what planet they were on when recording this? “Games” sticks with the retro vibe and reminds me of something that would have played during a prom scene in your cult 80s films.
“Taken For A Fool” will be a track favorite, sounding more like what we have come to expect from The Strokes (with the slight electric twist). The guitars intertwine with Casablancas’ grungy tone to form an intoxicating song. “Call Me Back” and “Gratisfaction” are two other cuts that shine on Angles, although the beginning guitar in “Call Me Back” sounds a little similar to the intro of 311’s “I’ll Be Here Awhile”. Casablancas also seems to be channeling lead singer of The Bravery, Sam Endicott at some point in “Call Me Back”, carrying a deep smooth voice instead of the usual grunge. “Gratisfaction” is definitely the song to download if you were a big fan of “Last Night” on Is This It. The drums stand out on this track, pulling together the catchy guitar rhythms with the swinging pulse of Casablancas’ crooning.
“Metabolism” and “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight” round out the album. Heavy bass, the electric guitar and ominous vocals give “Metabolism” a dark under tone that was pretty absent throughout most of the album. Fans will recognize “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight from the band’s SNL appearance on March 5th.
Originally not believing Angles to be my favorite album from The Strokes, it has definitely grown on me after listening to it a couple (hundred) times. I don’t think fans will be disappointed with the band’s evolution. So, be ready to have The Strokes take over your television as they make appearances on Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Conan in the coming weeks for the release of Angles on March 22nd.
© March 22nd, 2011
TheWaster.com | NYC