“Angles” strikes a chord
In 2001, five young new york natives released their debut album “Is This It.” The events that followed are stuff of musical history. Crowned “the saviors of rock and roll” (a title they never embraced) the Strokes never recovered from the initial hype that surrounded them.
Many critics lashed back against The Strokes, saying their unique mix of gritty guitar work, lyrics discussing the morality of modern day life, and gruff baritone vocals were all style and no substance. After going on a brief hiatus following their largely dull “First Impressions of Earth,” The Strokes announced their triumphant return with the new album “Angles.”
Album opener “Machu Picchu” has lead singer and front-man Julian Casablanca sounding almost auto tuned at parts. The guitar riff, boldly played by the talented Albert Hammond, Jr., bounces off of a keyboard that sounds reminiscent of Casablanca’s solo outing. The song perfectly sets the stage for this album, which continually finds a way to balance their early sound with a new found confidence.
Without giving the listeners a chance to breathe, “Under the Cover of Darkness” opening guitar hook catches them off guard. A very similar song to their early single “Someday” from debut “Is This It,” an American rock classic. Easily the most accessible song on the album, the song showcases their strengths perfectly.
In several places, “Angles” takes extreme risks with a completely new sound. “You’re So Right” has the boys focusing more heavily on heavy atmosphere than actual song structure. Casablanca’s vocals are particularly dismal, resulting in a heavy, early R.E.M.-esque sound. However, “Call me back,” one of the best growers on the disc, takes their sound in the polar opposite direction, with a light melody that trades in their normal exuberance for a mellow outing.
The album is surprisingly dense in spots and air-thin in others, many of these songs take three or four listens to digest. Songs like the aforementioned “Under The Cover of Darkness” and “Two Kinds of Happiness” help to counterbalance moodier tracks like “Metabolism” and “You’re So Right.” The Strokes show surprising talent as pop song writers.
Album closer and overall highlight “Life is Simple in the Moonlight” is a lyrical triumph, arguably the most tender and moving song Casablanca has written in twelve years of making music. There are strains of some “Incubus” influence, but the song is completely their own and stands as one of their best yet. “Don’t try to stop me. Get out of the way!” Casablanca shouts over the band as the song slowly fades into nothingness. “This is it.”"Angles" strikes a chord,