Angles The Strokes (RCA) An underwritten and scattershot fourth album

Was That It? The Strokes’ latest album is underwritten and scattershot.

At this point, I don’t think anybody knows what they want from The Strokes anymore. It’s been 10 years since the band dropped Is This It into the ears of a public unaccustomed to over-educated trust-fund bohos with a fetish for The Feelies and too much of your girlfriend’s attention. Their 20s are now in their past, a troublesome development for a band whose very 20s-ness defined them. But they couldn’t remain the young upstarts forever.

Which is all well and good; it’s an issue that’s faced countless bands before them and will vex countless bands to come. If a group stays the same, it stagnates. If it changes, it alienates. The problem Angles poses is: So what are The Strokes now? It’s a record that’s not sure. There’s no musical or sonic or thematic throughline, no over-riding sensibility or identity. To listen to the 10 songs on Angles is to listen to 10 different bands that all happen to have the same lineup.

That strategy might work for Guided By Voices (just kidding: No two GbV songs have ever featured the same lineup), but for The Strokes, throwing everything against the wall ends up sounding lost and desperate. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti takes his mechanical rhythms to their extreme with the stalling-motorik beat of “You’re So Right,” while “Metabolism” lurches with a chaotic seesaw riff portending post-punk doom. The Strokes become lush New Romantics for “Games” and give power-pop a go, biting Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes” hard on “Gratisfaction” and the guitar sound of “Shake Some Action” more gingerly on “Call Me Back.” The identity crisis plays itself out within a single track, “Two Kinds of Happiness,” which can’t decide whether it wants to be a nervy New Wave guitar song or a U2-style greet-the-sun anthem along the lines of “Beautiful Day.”

And when The Strokes retreat to old tricks, they don’t sound like they’re trying very hard to make them work. “Taken for a Fool” fills in the same general outline of “Alone, Together” with heavy inks instead of crosshatching, and the appealingly bouncy “Under Cover of Darkness” is essentially a rewrite of “Last Nite.” Even so, the latter’s jaunty, guttural bass/guitar bump is appealingly nifty, and “Macchu Pichu” features a sharp, intricate post-chorus riff.

There are isolated hooks that catch all over Angles, but the songs themselves are dully underwritten. The closing track, “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight,” isn’t a summation, a conclusion, or even an ending, just the last thing that the band spat out before turning off the lights. With each album, The Strokes have seemed to dissipate more and more. Now, with Angles, they’re just vapor. 

VIDEO: The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness

Our Readers Say

Shitty review, and I don'y like your attitude.

"unaccustomed to over-educated trust-fund bohos with a fetish for The Feelies"

Fuck you man, what have you done with your life?

This guy seems a lot more concerned with The band than the actual album.
What album are you listening to???? If it's the same one I have you are absolutely insane!! The first 5 songs are classics and as a whole it works very well toghether.....Perhaps you could use a new job.
This was the worst review I've read thus far, unfortunately for The Strokes there are a group of people dedicated to undermining their progression and relevance. Its just funny how you can read a review and ask yourself-"Did this guy even listen to the album?"-its sad. My advice to the reviewer, find a new gig and find it quick.
Aside from where he trashes the band members (which is unnecessary and makes him sound kind of jealous) I think he has some very valid points. I listened to the entire album and came out with the very similar feeling that this wasn't so much an album as 10 separate songs, with 1 or 2 sharing influences in writing. The best albums of the decade are the one's that express a musical or some other aspiration and express it in song. "Is This It" managed to harken back to 1970's punk while effectively capturing the spirit of New York. "Illinois" by Sufjan Stevens illustrated how simple the entire history of a state could be filtered through one man's eye. "Fleet Foxes" recaptured the sound of Simon and Garfunkel and applied it to the natural world, while "Funeral" by Arcade Fire seemed to be all about death, but the real theme of the album was the life-affirming undertones present near the end of each song. Despite your feelings on any of these records, it can't be disputed that they are some of the most critically acclaimed music to come out in the last ten years, because each worked towards a certain motif to great effect.

There are definitely some good songs on "Angles", but there is little relation between any of them. Macchu Piccu and Two Kinds of Happiness remind me of 80's synth-pop, while Games could have been off "Phrazes". It's not that I don't like any of the songs, in fact, there are some really good ones. I just find no common theme between them. Asking "what album are you listening to" to every reviewer who writes about this fact (and many will) won't cover up the fact that "Angles" tells the story of a band experiencing an identity crisis.

That's just my take on it, and anyone can disagree, as long as I don't get lit up for it, afterall, a review is just an opinion.
It looks like you just read a bunch of other peoples' reviews, stole some lines and then wrote your your review. Also, enough with this "trust-fund" rich-kid crap. If you don't like how rich they are or their upbringing, go write an for an op-ed. Otherwise, learn how to write a MUSIC review. Listen to the music and judge the music. Not the band-members.

And, also, on a personal note, the album sounded great. Yes, there were weaknesses, but it's much better than 90% of shit that's being produced these days.
Hey Tim you sound a hell of a lot like the author of this review.
I just heard the album and, whilst it is telling that the band worked fragmentedly on the album, it still sounded a very good record. Whilst Tim's point is a good one that a lot of the great albums of the last 10 years have had a singular motif, that is not to say this is the rule. In fact, ever since the advent of itunes et al modern music is consumed largely on a track by track basis, so it may be that the album format will only survive if tracks function as stand alone entities, as is the case on 'Angles'. If this is the case, the Strokes may have displayed some adaptability and relevance to this new decade after all.

I also reject the point that the tracks are completely disparate, although each track clearly does lean towards a different influence. It will be frustrating if the Strokes are criticised for this, since it surely comes as a response to consistent criticism for being samey and restricted. Of course, the reviewer would say that there is a way of being varied as well as cohesive, but I believe my first point might provide a caveat to that argument.

Sorry for the wordy and pretentious waffle but I love this band and want them to be given a chance.
"What album are you listening to???? If it's the same one I have you are absolutely insane!! The first 5 songs are classics and as a whole it works very well toghether.....Perhaps you could use a new job."

Who the hell said this? Classics? Nah bruv, the first five songs on "Is this It" were classics. This is mostly rubbish.
Wow, the writer got the Strokes fans' panties in a bunch with this one.

Why is it that so many of you respond to a reviewer with whom you disagree with "Perhaps you should find a new job!" or "you need a new gig!", etc.? It sounds so lame and butt-hurt. Reviewers write things people disagree with - that's part of their job. Get over it.

"I don'y like your attitudes!"
The album is called Angles. As in, each band member had his own input on each song. Hence why they sound different. Besides, I'd rather not be forced to listen to the same song for ten years
There are some great songs in this album. You just got to listen to it a number of times. On your 3rd listen, I guarantee you, you will
fall in love with Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Games,
Taken for a Fool, Call Me Back, Metabolsim and with the best song in this album ie Life is Simple
in the Moonlight. What more do u want from a 10-track album if that offers you 6 good to very good songs including the majestic start of
Metabolism (track # 9)? Of course it cud hav been better. Of course it cud hav contained many excellent songs instead of many good to very good ones. But
just listen to it once more or twice more, u will know it is not at all bad or
trash or what some fake music pundits claiming it to be. It is after all The Strokes - the only true (true in the truest sense) great band of last many years.
Well if u don't hav much time, just listen to the last track "Life is Simple in the Moonlight" and the 5th track "Games". You will witness what great songwriting is all about.
No more fights please. The reviewer has done his job and we the fans are doing ours. But calling Strokes the rich kids in the typical fashion is where the reviewer has gone wrong.
If they are rich kids or nerds or rastafarian kids - what the fuck is the reviewer's problem? Judge the music, man. You are not marrying or divorcing any of these kids. You are just
listening to their songs. All the best.
I've enjoyed the comments to this review WAY more than any Strokes recording. Thanks, guys! I love you morons!
Bob, very good point. Its called angles for a reason. I loved it. Can't stop listening to it, really glad its something different. The band is made up of a bunch of very talented individuals with different tastes that are reflected in the diversity of the songs. Goodness, well if you don't like it too bad, don't listen to it....but maybe you should, you might realize that its actually great!

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