Under Review: The Strokes – Angles

As you’ll no doubt gather by reading this (or any other) site, there are plenty of opinions to be hung on each and every band. For me, there are certainly plenty of groups that I like and plenty that I don’t like. Sometimes, a band that I do like releases an album that I don’t (though the reverse is rarely the case). Every once in a while, though, comes a band about which I simply have no opinion. It’s not that I don’t care for The Strokes, I just don’t care about them. When the scruffy New Yorkers were hailed as the saviors of back-to-basics rock music toward the start of the last decade, I must’ve been somewhere else. Most likely, I heard their music without making note of who the band was making it, or I only ever heard the band’s name used in conjectural statements about the future of rock music.

While The Strokes themselves remained uninteresting to me, their hiatus after their third album yielded a wealth of music that I curiously immersed myself in. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. struck first with the still-delightful Yours To Keep, which suggested the sunshiny pop of his famed father’s generation. More eclectic offerings from drummer Fabrizio Moretti (Little Joy) and bassist Nikolai Fraiture (Nickel Eye) followed, as did an enjoyable-but-harmless record from singer Julian Casablancas. Apparently lead guitarist Nick Valensi knew well enough to stay away from the solo project game, as he was preparing all the while for his bandmates’ return. The buildup to Angles has been a long one for fans and critics alike, but is it the kind of album that would make a newcomer sit up and take notice? Perhaps.

The samplings I have heard of The Strokes’ older albums indicate a strong reliance on tight arrangements. Angles is definitely full of those, especially the doubled guitars on “Under Cover Of Darkness.” There are also plenty of not-so-overt musical allusions to power pop legends of yore. “Taken For A Fool” sounds like it could’ve come from The Cars and the rollicking “Gratisfaction” is pure Marc Bolan. Casablancas’ delivery is still distant and slurred, making interpreting his lyrics frustrating at best. Despite their extended hiatus and time to have spent on this album, Angles ends up being about as forgettable as those snippets of Strokes songs I might’ve heard in a commercial or on a pre-concert PA. It’s not the kind of record that, were this the band’s debut, would be hailed as a catalyst for cultural revolution. That’s not the conclusion of someone who may have missed the boat way back when, but a reexamination of just who it is we laud as being icons.

 

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~ by E. on March 23, 2011.

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