The Strokes
Angles


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew Kaster USER (24 Reviews)
March 15th, 2011 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The same Strokes on the outside, just the graphics, hardware, and modes of operation have been reassembled.

For the past five years of relative silence, The Strokes had seemingly become victims of the pundit prophesying claiming they had nowhere to go but out of style. However, it would seem that even a decade buried in oscillating trends couldn’t elegantly corrode the coolness of The Strokes. While Angles finds them adhering to a few of today’s most popular motifs (tropical guitar lines, retro-futurism, hipster tweeness) they’re still the same band, which means that above all, they’re fashionably insouciant towards everyone and everything; the smug bastards.

Assured, confident, and soulful, Angles is more or less the kind of album everybody wanted to hear since Is This It?; a familiar sounding record that nonetheless takes steps in some sort of a different direction. Where First Impressions of Earth was needlessly busy with jarring movements in slight experimentation (not to mention, lacking in memorable melodies), Angles is tightly coiled and delivered with laser accurate interplay. The entire band is tighter and more technical than they’ve ever been, resulting in a sound that is deceivingly simplistic yet painstakingly complex. Each and every song evolves, peeling back to reveal sudden guitar lines, bass grooves, and drum patterns that fly in and out from left-field; effectively putting to rest any claims that the band was unable to flex their strengths and attack their songs with more ambition. Despite the inhuman tautness of their playing they still manage to convey a sense of boisterous looseness and breeziness in their songs (which is something that never ceases to amaze and entertain).

The Strokes branch out conservatively on this album, breaking out of the sort of lockstep ennui their last two releases regulated them to (albeit, in small doses). They've always been fence straddlers, not willing to commit to replicating their first album (no matter how immaculate it was), or, taking bold steps in new directions. Though songs such as “Under Cover of Darkness” and “Taken for a Fool” are remarkably as catchy and blithe as the best tracks off of Is This It?, the band is generally pushing into new(ish) territory. Whether they’re tackling bouncy Billy Joel-esque crooning (“Gratisfaction”), robotic retro-dance (“Games”), or John Hughes sound tracking (“Two Kinds of Happiness”), they’re approaching each from the same perspective in which they always have. It’s a bittersweet compromise of sorts as the band limits their boundaries enough to stay wholly familiar and infectiously catchy. Probably the most daring (and interesting) tracks are “You’re So Right” and “Call Me Back”. Both songs, if more obtuse and esoteric, could pass for outtakes from Radiohead’s In Rainbows, as both radiate the same sort of beautiful and cold weirdness as the English quintet (a sound that The Strokes actually manage to pull off).

Angles is still the same Strokes on the outside, just the graphics, hardware, and modes of operation have been reassembled. They’re still touting the idea that economy and simplicity are virtues, not enemies, while nonetheless indulging in moments of subtle virtuosity. Everything remains punchy, catchy, and trendy as spiky staccato and hip-hypnotizing guitar lines work their way into the folds of your mind. The fast song that isn’t punk, the pop hook that isn’t predictable, and the rock feeling that isn’t heavy ended and glossed over with glossy production techniques; The Strokes have always been masters of these things, if only, these things. Though not always instantly gratifying, each song sparks and flares to cast sharp images of intelligent pop songs. At the end of the day though, what more do you need? It’s the kind of music that sounds infinitely better when you snap your fingers and tap your toes in time. It’s the kind of music that can weave cross-stitched guitar lines, thumping bass, and no-nonsense drumming into a pastiche of pop/garage/rock’s finest yarns. Just because The Strokes perfected their sound right off the bat doesn’t mean there’s nowhere else to go. Even if they’re essentially just sticking to their guns, it doesn’t mean they can’t expand their formula into new territories. Their formula being the same of any legendary rock group; chaos and control.



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user ratings (815)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SloppyMilkshake
March 15th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Woo, twenty reviews. Woo, sleep. Not sure how I feel about the review. Awesome album though.

Check the band's website for the album stream (that is, if you haven't already downloaded the leak).

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


31163 Comments


I haven't worked out if I like this album or not yet, 3 seems somewhat neutral

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


31163 Comments


In the 2nd paragraph you use the term "tightly coiled" twice within a relatively small gap. No biggie, just thought I'd mention it. And at the end of the same paragraph it should be "inhuman", not "inhumanly"

SloppyMilkshake
March 15th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The guitar work sold me on this thing. I really underrated those two before I heard this album.

And thanks for pointing that out, I'll change it. Fucking lack of sleep, WHY AM I STILL AWAKE?!

teoferrazzi
March 15th 2011


31 Comments


some word choices are puzzling, here's a few examples:

achingly complex [maybe painstakingly complex?]
baroque looseness and breeziness [baroque is anything but loose and breezy?]
branch out conservatively [you were trying to say that they are innovative?]
bittersweet compromise [but you mention no downsides, and bittersweet is both positive and negative?]
I pos'd anyway


TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


7112 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the guitarwork was always my fav part of this band, and it doesnt disappoint on this either (in love with the guitarwork at 2:15 in machu). pretty good stuff imo but ive only heard this and is this it

PoodleRapist
March 15th 2011


254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pos'd, outstanding review. i've got this album downloading right now and i'm excited as shit to hear it

Dummit
March 15th 2011


352 Comments



Billy Joel-esque*

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


15991 Comments


nice review milkshake, pos'd

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

omnipanzer
March 15th 2011


21451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Angles is more or less the kind of album everybody wanted to hear since Is This It?"

Good!

POS'd Nice review

Tyrael
March 15th 2011


20876 Comments


Great review and grats on your 20th.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

letsgofishing
March 15th 2011


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah this review is a work of art.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


7281 Comments


Solid review. Pos. That said, there are some very niggly bits:

i.) For the past five years of relative silence, The Strokes had seemingly become the victims of the pundit prophesying that claimed they had nowhere to go but out of style.

Sentence is very awkward. There's at least three clauses in it; consider removing one, or making it two or more sentences altogether.

ii.) I have trouble figuring out what you're trying to tell me in your second paragraph.

iii.) The review gives a sense of being rather disorganized, undirected, and unfocused. Much of it lapses into inward-gazing babble, which neither drives towards a central thesis nor offers any indication of what the album might sound like to a neutral reader.

In other words, I guess what I'm trying to say is that this review - although well-written - struggles to express itself for large parts. This causes its overall effectiveness to suffer quite a bit.

Hope this wasn't too harsh; on the plus side I hope it helps. Your prose is good - just gotta tighten the ideas a wee bit more =)

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

BigHans
March 15th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good job man, you are a pretty good reviewer.

conradtao
Emeritus
March 15th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review! I agree with you on a lot of points.

TheAlmightyBungler
March 15th 2011


104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

album has no flow whatsoever

StrizzMatik
March 15th 2011


3188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's one or two tracks that aren't great but otherwise this is probably their best record. Macchu Picchu, Games, UCOD, Metabolism and Two Kinds Of Happiness slay hard for me

WatchItExplode
March 15th 2011


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Miami Wice, #1 new show!"


That pops into my head when I listen to Macchu Picchu.

Satellite
March 15th 2011


20816 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

might bump this up to a 4.

definitely their best since ROF.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

bloc
March 15th 2011


34848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Last two songs are king

I still prefer Room On Fire, but this comes second.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor



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