It’s been more than four years since The Strokes released their last album (2006’s “First Impressions of Earth”) and decided to go on an extended hiatus, leaving fans and indie rock enthusiasts to wonder when or if they would release new music and what results their return to a recording studio would yield. It’s now 2011; the band has regrouped and has released their fourth and highly anticipated album, Angles.
Returning to a more simplistic and catchy garage rock style in the vein of their 2001 debut Is This It? Front man Julian Casablancas and Co: Nick Valensi (guitar), Albert Hammond Jr. (guitar), Nikolai Fraiture (bass) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums) have constructed an album most fans will admit is a true return to form, while still pushing their musical boundaries and creating something fresh and exciting.
Led by single “Undercover of Darkness,” Casablancas continues his carefree and assured vocal style while crunchy and upbeat guitars display a verve that has now become a classic aspect of their song writing. This track definitely showcases the band having a grand old time making music again and the energetic aura is captured perfectly, thanks to producer Gus Oberg.
“Games” is a pleasant nod to 80’s new wave, with its icy and somber synthesizers, stretchy bass lines and handclaps. Casablancas’s vocals shine here, yearningly declaring, “I’m okay, I’m alright,” likes a man stricken with uncontrolled frustration. This song will either be lauded for its unique approach or lambasted for the same reason.
The Southern rock twang of “Gratisfaction” is welcomed territory with its scruffy guitar and anthem filled chorus that begs to be sung at the top of your lungs.
The album closes with “Life is Simple in The Moonlight,” a multi-layered number that cleverly utilizes guitar feedback, tight drums and synthesizers. The second half of the song displays a breakdown that is downright awe-inspiring, leading to a guitar solo that reminds you how immensely talented Valensi is.
In the end, love it or hate it, Angles is a welcomed departure from The Strokes previous two albums that stands up nicely next to their critically acclaimed debut. It’s the mark of a band that has made their rounds and come full circle to deliver an album that should be praised for both its familiarity and differences alike. Now if we can just get a listen to that supposedly already started fifth album…
Reviewer Bio - Michael Rincon is a Entertainment/Music Journalist writing for various magazines since 2007 including Under the Radar, BestNewBands.com and SoundsgoodCA.com. Based in Los Angeles Michael has gained experience within the music industry interacting with artists/bands and the labels they're a part of.