Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Strokes - Angles (2011)

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When it comes to The Strokes there are only two kinds of people: casual listeners and die-hard fans. Everyone has heard of The Strokes or has at least heard one of their songs as their reach is all but inescapable. I'd classify myself in the former category: A casual listener. And yet when I heard that they'd be releasing their first album in nearly 5 years, I was excited and when I heard it would be similar in style to their debut album Is This It, I was doubly excited ("Someday" is one of my favorite Strokes songs).

When "Machu Picchu" starts, it's obvious that Angles will be no mere duplication of Is This It. Their sound is cleaner, tempered by age and experience, and it's clear that The Strokes can never sounds like they did back in the 90s. At least not exactly. Tell any listener that the blips of sound in "Machu Picchu" are made by a guitar and not by a synthesizer and be prepared to be met with considerable amounts of disbelief.

I have no idea how it stands when compared to other Strokes albums but Angles stands alone as a decent effort. By no means it is perfect but I doubt that was their intention and that's not what real rock music sets out to be. And yet it's surprisingly hard to classify the album as a straight up rock record. Sure, "Under Cover Of Darkness" and "Taken For A Fool" (definite album highlights) jam like proper rock songs but tracks like "Games" and "Gratisfaction are far from it: a little unsettling in their poppiness. But as I said before: Angles is a valiant effort; a worthwhile triumph after years of low output. Here's hoping it doesn't take another 5 years for the next album to come out but if that's how long it takes to deliver another decent album then so be it.

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