The Strokes returned with Angles last month following a lengthy hiatus. The album has received a mixed response from critics with many tending to tilt toward the negative. This is a brief attempt to redress the balance somewhat.
Much has been made of Casablancas taking a step back from dictatorial creative control. Previously he’d taken charge of nearly every aspect of the music, but, on this occasion songs from other members are featured. This odd collaboration process has born an album of scatter-shot diversity. Yet, somehow Angles sounds a lot like a first cousin of his solo album, 2009’s Phrazes For The Young. ‘You’re So Right’, ‘Games’ and ‘Two Kinds Of Happiness’ signal a shift towards a sound rooted in ’80s new wave/post-punk and could have slotted right in to his aforementioned solo record. They also sound boldly futuristic.
The signature spiky strokes lo-fi garage sound remains at the heart and soul of this record; ‘Taken For a Fool’, ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ and the clever twists of ‘Machu Picchu’ are exeptional. There are further stylistic departures with the drumless ‘Call Me Back’ and glam-esque ‘Gratisfaction’.
Burdened with so much expectation from 5 years away, their return isn’t so much a masterpiece than Angles showing us The Strokes are still very much part of the mix ten years on from Is This It. Angles isn’t perfect, its scattered, disjointed and experimental; call it what you will but it is a damn fine album.