Published on March 21st, 2011 | by Aaron0
First Impressions: The Strokes – Angles
I often read how The Strokes defined a musical movement in the early ’00s. How they were icons for rock/indie bands of that generation. And yet, I don’t remember a lick of that.
Sure, I remember the first time I heard “Last Night”. It was a damn catchy mix of melody and raw guitars. In fact, I liked all the singles I heard but not enough to purchase the album (with it’s rather saucy cover) Is This It. In fact, I even saw the band live before I had ever purchased any of their work. They played the main stage of Ireland’s “Witnness” festival many moons ago. I remember being impressed with the band’s live performance and Julian Casablancas’ rather crazy banter with the crowd.
The Strokes were one of those bands I liked but I never got excited about them to the same level as most of my friends. I’m even one of those odd-one-out types who thinks their second album Room On Fire is much better than This Is It. There is a lot more variety to the tracks and they really grew as musicians to make something far more re-listenable.
However, once again, their new album Angles was released this past weekend and I hadn’t heard a lick of the new stuff. But I had read some good reviews and bought the CD which I will now review in real time. No pausing, no second listens. These are my thoughts as I listen to the CD for the first time. Lets get to it.
1) Machu Picchu
Oooo, how 80s is this? Not what I expected at all. But after about a minute we go into those guitar riffs that define The Strokes’ sound. I love the bass line through this song though. Really cool song. I like this. Casablancas sounds great too.
2) Under Cover Of Darkness
Very sing-along-able song. Nice back-up singing on this track too. I’m a sucker for a good “oooh” and “aaah” harmony. Two very likeable songs so far. This is a good sign.
3) Two Kinds Of Happiness
Complete change of pace here. They’re channeling Coldplay’s sort of anthemic drumming in parts and then go very, very 80s pop in others. Interesting. Would be fascinated to experience this live.
4) You’re So Right
Not mad on this. It sounds like the soundtrack for an old Sega beat-em-up. In fact, if this isn’t a cover of a song from Streets Of Rage II, I’ll eat my hat.
5) Taken For A Fool
This is more familiar to their old catalogue. It’s strange, so many of the old Strokes songs sound the same but I rarely get tired of the formula. It’s like my old cohort Brian Fitzpatrick always says during times like these “sometimes a band only knows one song, but that song is great so you’ll listen to it 100 times”. I’m paraphrasing, but the sentiment is valuable here. That being said, it’s the only song on the album so far that has that classic Strokes sound.
Am I reviewing a Robyn album? Big electronic beats again. I’m not really complaining, it’s all very listenable so far. It’s just not what I was expecting at all. All the reviews I had been reading before I bought the album claimed this was a return to Is This It territory. So far, I hear very little of that.
7) Call Me Back
Things slow down here. It’s interesting, there is a real progression in their music. Obviously the solo projects are expanding their musical universe.
This has a retro kind of sound to it than I’ve ever heard The Strokes do before. It almost sounds like a Thin Lizzy song. It’s a nice, and welcomed, change of pace. Yeah, major Thin Lizzy feeling off this, which is not a bad thing.
Muse. I’m sorry to be using so many comparisons. I know it’s a poor critic’s shorthand for explaining much more complex musical sounds but I only have the length of the song to describe what I’m hearing and the guitars on this give me a big Muse sort of feeling. Operatic rock.
10) Life Is Simple In The Moonlight
As the album closes with this moody number, I think I have to admit that I’ve really liked what I’ve heard. I’m a little disappointed that this is the last track, I’m ready to hear more.
Overall, this is a solid album. For those hoping to hear another Is This It, you’ll be sorely disappointed as the sound has shoved from growly guitars to electro-rock. However, if you want to hear good music, this has what you need. Casablancas sounds as good as I’ve ever heard him and Hammond Junior’s trip to rehab hasn’t stunted the musical exploration that his solo-career has been fueling. I was very impressed and I’d recommend Angles to anyone who can get their hands on it. Top stuff.