Review Summary: The Strokes crap all over their legacy.
It amazes me that in 2001 people crowned The Strokes as the band to save rock n’ roll. What’s more amazing to me is that in 2001, we also had the release of Jack White’s massive ‘White Blood Cells’ and Incubus’ ‘Morning View’ to fix the whole nu-metal situation. Wasn’t rock already saved? ‘Is This It’ merely served as the suckerpunch that the mainstream rock audience needed to finally break the grasp of nu-metal. ‘Is This It’ wasn’t this album full of magnificence; that album was an album full of guys having fun playing rock at volume 11. ‘Is This It’ was a great album. The Strokes, however, weren’t a great band. They were a band like The Darkness, that needed to make a statement, then fade away. They arrived on a gimmick; a wave; and Julian Casablancas realized that he could only milk garage-pop so far, things went awry. After their middling follow up albums dabbled in post-punk and mediocrity, we kind of realized The Strokes really weren’t the saviors of rock n’ roll.
This is an arguable point that we could go on over for hours; yeah, ‘Room on Fire’ was good, but it was forgettable and didn’t have the impact of ‘Is This It’. The Strokes revitalized the art of being cool rockers, and ‘Angles’ comes out in a time where the cool rocker is dead. An album like ‘Is This It’ wouldn’t fly in 2011 when everyone is too obsessed with Lady GaGa or Kings of Leon. Julian Casablancas knew this, so he got adventurous. He stripped the band down to the bone and re-built them. He made a bizarre album. This band has doomed themselves to purgatory with an album so divisive. If he was really insistent on bringing The Strokes back, he should have just refined the sound of ‘Is This It’. Because, while someone like me who was never a huge fan would have derided that decision as well, the original fans and the ones who left after ‘First Impressions of Earth’ would have came back. ‘Angles’ isn’t going to do anything for the fans that jumped ship the moment the awkwardly new wave ‘Earth’ hit. The fans that made them the biggest band in the world in 2001 won’t return on behalf of ‘Angles’. The Strokes kicked themselves square in the face, because they could have easily gotten those people back, but instead they made a weird new wave post-punk album that has a severe case of indecision. ‘Angles’ wants to be The Strokes, The Cars, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Tears for Fears. The Strokes succeed in sounding similar to all these bands, but never really excel. They never carve out their own identity. ‘Angles’ has an identity crisis. It’s a cluster***.
I do enjoy songs such as ‘Machu Picchu’, ‘Under Cover of Darkness, and ‘You’re So Right’ for their nostalgia factor as well as their throwaway replayability and sheer fun aspect. They’re not great or memorable, but they’re good to blast in the car. ‘Machu Picchu’ and ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ are only fun because Julian Casablancas returns to the ‘Is This It’ blueprint to make some catchy tunes. And ‘You’re So Right’ is only listenable because it has it’s heart in The Jesus and Mary Chain or old R.E.M but creates a solid, new sound for The Strokes to explore. I read a great quote which sums up my entire issue with the album on Pitchfork’s review of the album: “Throughout, the album is hobbled by disconnections”. I really couldn’t agree more. Because the jumpy ‘Taken For a Fool’ does, in no way fit in well after the drab depression of ‘You’re So Right’. The electric drum set of ‘Games’ does in no way gel with Casablancas’ newfound jarring high-range. And have you heard ‘Gratisfaction’? It’s like the guys stumbled across a Rolling Stones B-side and poorly emulated it. I enjoy it when bands pay homage to their influences, such as in ‘You’re So Right’ where it teeters on influence and not imitation. ‘Gratisfaction’ is the most un-original copycat track I’ve ever heard. They should be embarrassed.
'Angles' has absolutely no identity in the slightest. The Strokes didn't know if they wanted it to be a garage pop album, an 80s alternative album, or a 70s classic rock. That's what makes 'Angles' ultimately so disappointing. The album never really develops any of the multiple sounds it attempts to introduce. There's no connecting identity between the songs, they all kind of sit uncomfortably next to one another with no connecting theme or feel. After listening, it's incredibly obvious that the entire band wrote the album because it feels like four different bands going at it. That's what ultimately makes 'Angles' a substantial failure. This also begs the question of whether The Strokes should have made this album in the first place. They're directly connected to the early 2000 boom of garage pop with The White Stripes, who recently hung it up because they realized they were out of place and realized that straying to far from their original sound would ultimately doom the band because of their place and relevance in a particular time period. They went out on top. By resisting the urge to release 'Is This It' Part II, The Strokes have doomed themselves to irrelevance. The fan who never came back isn't going to come back, and the aging fan wanting nostalgia who picked up 'Angles' just to hear his favorite band kick it one more time won't care about this band anymore. It's over, Julian. Hang it up gracefully before you become the 2000s version of Bush or Live.
the whole white stripes comparison in this review is overplayed, i'm reading it and i'm thinking okay why does he keep talking about this other band for no real reason. your insistence on framing both bands in some larger cultural context is also tiresome
why the fuck should they just stop making music because their "time has passed" or whatever you're trying to say here. if they enjoy making music they should keep making music regardless of whatever the current trends are