Angles review by The Strokes

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  • Released: Mar 22, 2011
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.6 (129 votes)
The Strokes: Angles
2

Sound — 9
It has been five years since The Strokes have graced our ears with their eclectic take on indie rock n' roll. Since their last record, 2006's First Impressions of Earth, various side projects from the respective members have come and gone, but none quite as comparable or hype-worthy as the build up to 2011's Angles. Due to this lapse in time, nobody quite knew what to expect from the New York City boys. However once the first single Under Cover of Darkness, driven by its perfectly Strokes-esque eclectic yet entwining guitar lines (reminiscent of the Indie jauntiness of Is This It's Someday) was released as a free download in February, fans were reassured that The Strokes were back in business and ready to captivate those that still cared. That being said, fans looking for a full-on classic album from the American quintet will be fully surprised by the sound of the modern-day Strokes. Full of tempo and time changes, Angles is an album that flows from start to finish, evoking a whole spectrum of emotions whilst delighting the listener with little surprises here and there. For example, the first track off the album, Machu Picchu, begins with haunting twin guitars complemented by a funky bass-line that would not sound out of place on The Clash's Sandinista! - that is, until the instrumentals blossom into a polished, and cleanly cut chorus that defines The Strokes oh-so well. The Strokes progression as a band, and willingness to experiment is perfectly captured on sixth track Games. Clearly the most avant-garde tune on the album, it begins with a consistent thumping of the drum's bass complemented by a silky, star-like sound. This soon drops to a deep, naked bassline which completely changes the mood of the song until a wall of moog's kicks in with Julian's crooning voice. If ever there was a Strokes song for the smokers and tokers out there, this would be it with its hypnotising interludes and dream-like quality. One of the stand-out tracks on the album, aptly titled Gratisfaction with its ebullient guitar lines, mini-guitar solo, dependable drums, and catchy chorus, epitomizes where The Strokes are right now as a band. A prominent track on the album, hitting hard after the downbeat yet captivating menace that is previous track Call Me Back, Gratisfaction is sure to be a future fan-favourite. Another unexpected track is the penultimate number Metabolism which sounds a little like the slower, bastard half-brother of a Muse track a-la Black Holes and Revelations. Whilst The Strokes' new sound on Angles may lend itself to innovation and the somewhat bohemian, there are still tunes on the record that can be deemed 'classic' for those 'old-school' fans. Such would be the case for songs like first single Under Cover of Darkness, Two Kinds of Happiness, Taken for a Fool, and album closer Life is Simple in The Moonlight.

Lyrics — 6
For the most part, Julian Casablancas' lyrics on the album do not really cover that wide a spectrum with many of the tracks about relationship issues. With that being said, he does successfully pen such lyrics in a fascinating enough way to prevent them from getting soggy and stale. For example, album ballad Call Me Back is about the hardships and worry of discovering information about someone, and disclosing your hidden secrets from said person as Casablancas croons: Tell me, don't tell me/ The hard part is telling you something that you would not like me to tell you. On another track You're So Right, Casablancas warbles about trying to understand the reasons for a fight between a loved one: Tell me what happened/ If you like and What are the reasons/ To fall out, and consequently trying to remedy the situation: I don't want to fight/ Don't want it, baby. Probably the most revealing set of lyrics into the band's dynamics is single Under Cover of Darkness, which presents the backbone for the band's hiatus after their previous album and their consequent reformation. The tune poses lyrics such as Know how folks back out, I still call/ Will you hate me now? about how previous decisions on reforming were squandered due to the member's not all being on the same page, and I'll wait for you/ Will you wait for me too? questioning the band's relevance towards fans after such a long hiatus. Whilst Casablancas' lyrics may not be the most diverse in content, the beauty of his penmanship is the multiple ways in which they can be interpreted.

Overall Impression — 8
Aside from the fact that you would be right in thinking that Angles is in no way groundbreaking, your first impressions of The Strokes' latest album are probably worthless. Within the first listen, you would be forgiven for thinking this a mediocre album, with at most a few standout tracks. However, this is an album that needs to be listened to more than once, from start to finish. The fluidity with which the tracks glide from one to the next makes this a more complete and unifying album than any The Strokes have previously recorded. Whether this is the result of the members recording as a whole in the studio for the first time, and compromising their respective ideas per track, or the result of the five year hiatus bringing out the sparkle in them is unclear. But what is certain, is that over time each track will present to you its individual character and quirkiness, which in turn will allow each tune to evoke a response that permits it to rightly stand alone as a unique Strokes song.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    kerokero
    I want to start off by thanking Adam for a great review. I honestly thought UG would bash this album, and I was shocked to see hardly and fanfare on the forums. Anywyas.... Being a huge STOKES fan, it bothers me to disagree largely with this review. While a good record reminiscent of 80s tunes and naughties loudness, this simply isnt a STROKES album. Which is not to say I did not enjoy it. Having listened to the album repeatedly since its stream on Monday, coming back to individual tracks and giving the album some space, it just isnt worth the 5 year wait. There is nothing NEW to offer with their current sound....nothing showing maturity, and a lot of the swagger and grime and catchiness that made people fall in love with Is This It and Room On Fire is nowhere present. Hell, even the unknown ground of FI isnt anywhere on this album. TBPH, I think its a 80s retro rock album that at times feels like something I could hear off a Yeah yeah yeahs cut, or Crystal Castles cut. Maybe the new trend with bands is to alienate and go into electronic directions. I do enjoy these songs, and I greatly appreciate the REM, Boston, Steely Dan and Cars influences. Its a good sound. But knowing the musicians that make up the STROKES band, I am dissapointed with what we were given.Also, a big portion of this new direction of theirs can stem from the ack of a producer. Only LIFE IS SIMPLE IN THE MOONLIGHT had a producer, and the rolled off jazzy tone and atmospheric setting feels very much like the Strokes of a few years ago. Being my favourite cut off the track, here is hoping to a storng producer-led avenue on the next album. TL;DR - Anyone thinking/hoping the album would sound like the lead single might be dissapoint panda. 5/10
    Duv
    SpiceyWeinerPHD wrote: I haven't listened to album yet but I just have to say something about the same old complaints that fans have when a new album comes out. "Its not them", stfu, it is them. They made it. Just because you want to hear the same things they did in their previous albums doesn't make them any less "them" than they are. Furthermore its a good thing when a band does something different, it means, musically, they are growing. This is why I loved First Impressions, songs "Vision of Division" really drive away from what they're doing and show how talented of composers they are. Room On Fire kinda feels like Is This It II but still Room On Fire manages to be my favorite Strokes album. Another example is Tool's Lateralis album, a true departure from what they did before and to this day is my favorite Tool album, though I was disappointed slightly by 10,000 Days as it sounded like Lateralis, AEnima, and Undertow mashed into one album but I digress. "Oh we have waited so long and this is all we get". Ok, its not like a band is out for however many years just conjuring up new music letting it marinate and ripen. Bands may have personal issues, scheduling conflictions ect. that get in the way of getting together and making new music. "I expected more....I expected this and that". Don't expect anything, at all. You'd be surprised how you can appreciate many more things in life (not just new albums) with a clean slate of mind. Like I said I haven't heard the album but Im sure at minimum it will be a hell of a lot better than a lot of this Kings of Leon or Rise Against crap thats horrendously plaguing our radio stations.
    I agree with this. For the record I like the album. But reading the reviews (in newspapers and so on) I can't help but laugh. They tend to go something like this: "9/11 happened and the world was about to implode and we were all going to die. Then Is This It was released and the course of the existence of the universe changed. Everything since has been crap and the band don't like each other. ***Proceed to go through each track being as unfairly critical as you can eg Machu Pichu is a pathetic attempt at white boys doing reggae*** add some comments about the music that clearly come from a non-musician who doesn't know anything and close by saying again that it's not as good as Is This It." Frankly I don't get it. I think The Strokes have improved with each album. It's just a shame that their first was so good. It's really been a curse for them. People need to get over themselves, God knows The Strokes did, 8 years ago.
    thewho65
    I was pretty surprised when this album dropped; I figured The Strokes would be on indefinite hiatus, left in the 2000s. I haven't listened to the entire album yet, but "Under The Cover of Darkness" didn't do much for me, and even watching their performance on SNL left me sort of numb. Whatever edginess or presence they had just a couple of years ago seems to have dissipated. I listened to Is This It and Room On Fire tons when I was younger, wasn't big on First Impressions (though it wasn't as bad as some make out), so I'll still check this out.
    InfernalFender
    emmyy3 wrote: too much hype around this album, so i think despite it being a decent album the overrating of it made it disappointing to some...
    Hmmm, suppose I can understand that. Personally I wasn't too aware of this album's release or even following it, so I was just pleasently surprised to see it in-store.
    TyM218
    I think the albums great. But don't let any negative reviews sway you, go listen to the album for free on thestrokes.com and decide for yourself
    SpiceyWeinerPHD
    I haven't listened to album yet but I just have to say something about the same old complaints that fans have when a new album comes out. "Its not them", stfu, it is them. They made it. Just because you want to hear the same things they did in their previous albums doesn't make them any less "them" than they are. Furthermore its a good thing when a band does something different, it means, musically, they are growing. This is why I loved First Impressions, songs "Vision of Division" really drive away from what they're doing and show how talented of composers they are. Room On Fire kinda feels like Is This It II but still Room On Fire manages to be my favorite Strokes album. Another example is Tool's Lateralis album, a true departure from what they did before and to this day is my favorite Tool album, though I was disappointed slightly by 10,000 Days as it sounded like Lateralis, AEnima, and Undertow mashed into one album but I digress. "Oh we have waited so long and this is all we get". Ok, its not like a band is out for however many years just conjuring up new music letting it marinate and ripen. Bands may have personal issues, scheduling conflictions ect. that get in the way of getting together and making new music. "I expected more....I expected this and that". Don't expect anything, at all. You'd be surprised how you can appreciate many more things in life (not just new albums) with a clean slate of mind. Like I said I haven't heard the album but Im sure at minimum it will be a hell of a lot better than a lot of this Kings of Leon or Rise Against crap thats horrendously plaguing our radio stations.
    riku2k10
    kerokero wrote: Only LIFE IS SIMPLE IN THE MOONLIGHT had a producer
    Actually so did Under Cover of Darkness, Gratisfaction, & Two Kinds of Happiness.
    kerokero
    riku2k10 wrote: kerokero wrote: Only LIFE IS SIMPLE IN THE MOONLIGHT had a producer Actually so did Under Cover of Darkness, Gratisfaction, & Two Kinds of Happiness.
    Really? Wow, must've missed that. Is it posted on the physical release of the album? I read in an interview that the only thing that survived that was outside the band was the closing track. My mistake. =] @SpicyWeinerPHD - It's not that we as fans can't deal with a waiting period between albums. But honestly, who should have to wait 5 years between albums and get 'this'? Once again, I dont think it's a bad album at all, it just isn't a very good album either. One can go for change. Everyone evolves. But when a project like this comes out sounding like a bad mash-up of solo projects and psuedo-covers of bands decades old, it leaves people wanting more. =/
    SG-Burchett
    THE STROKES ARE RUBBISH.....nah just kidding.....i'm not a fan of all indy, but the strokes have enough of a rock influence to keep me interested. This album shows that they aren't afraid to deviate from a formula, and while not all fans of bands like evolution as it means an end to the sound from a favourite album that they previously released, in this evolution is fine with me as their sound hasn't taken a too watered down mainstream sheen that some bands take on over time
    Duv wrote: SpiceyWeinerPHD wrote: I haven't listened to album yet but I just have to say something about the same old complaints that fans have when a new album comes out. "Its not them", stfu, it is them. They made it. Just because you want to hear the same things they did in their previous albums doesn't make them any less "them" than they are. Furthermore its a good thing when a band does something different, it means, musically, they are growing. This is why I loved First Impressions, songs "Vision of Division" really drive away from what they're doing and show how talented of composers they are. Room On Fire kinda feels like Is This It II but still Room On Fire manages to be my favorite Strokes album. Another example is Tool's Lateralis album, a true departure from what they did before and to this day is my favorite Tool album, though I was disappointed slightly by 10,000 Days as it sounded like Lateralis, AEnima, and Undertow mashed into one album but I digress. "Oh we have waited so long and this is all we get". Ok, its not like a band is out for however many years just conjuring up new music letting it marinate and ripen. Bands may have personal issues, scheduling conflictions ect. that get in the way of getting together and making new music. "I expected more....I expected this and that". Don't expect anything, at all. You'd be surprised how you can appreciate many more things in life (not just new albums) with a clean slate of mind. Like I said I haven't heard the album but Im sure at minimum it will be a hell of a lot better than a lot of this Kings of Leon or Rise Against crap thats horrendously plaguing our radio stations. I agree with this. For the record I like the album. But reading the reviews (in newspapers and so on) I can't help but laugh. They tend to go something like this: "9/11 happened and the world was about to implode and we were all going to die. Then Is This It was released and the course of the existence of the universe changed. Everything since has been crap and the band don't like each other. ***Proceed to go through each track being as unfairly critical as you can eg Machu Pichu is a pathetic attempt at white boys doing reggae*** add some comments about the music that clearly come from a non-musician who doesn't know anything and close by saying again that it's not as good as Is This It." Frankly I don't get it. I think The Strokes have improved with each album. It's just a shame that their first was so good. It's really been a curse for them. People need to get over themselves, God knows The Strokes did, 8 years ago.
    have to agree with the commment about kings of leon but although musically and originality wise this album beats rise against, you can't just write their stuff off because its lyrical content is just as well though out and is slightly more relevant currently than that of angles. angles is a good album though! but
    emmyy3
    too much hype around this album, so i think despite it being a decent album the overrating of it made it disappointing to some...
    Funk Monk
    I just listen to "games" and let me tell you, it is most definitely NOT for stoners and tokers lol.
    TommyGunn9999
    Thanks for the best review I have read of this album so far. I totally agree that first impressions of this album are worthless. When I heard "Under Cover of Darkness," I was very excited but once I heard "You're So Right" I was having second thoughts about it. After my first play of the full album, I was very disappointed. Until this album, I have liked every song The Strokes ever put out. Despite that, I decided to give it a 2nd listen (I pre-ordered the vinyl so I figured I might as well get my money's worth). I started noticing little things about each song that I found interesting. Also, someone posted several videos on Youtube of a recent show they played in Vegas. Watching the live performances of the new songs (which are much better than the album versions in my opinion) gave me an idea about what they were really going for and how much it does still have somewhat of a classic Strokes sound. Here's one video for example
    . So far I still like every Strokes, Julian, and Albert album better but it is definitely growing on me. My favorite song is still "Under Cover of Darkness" because it, more-so than any other track, has that 50s swing that made me love The Strokes in the first place. My 2nd favorite song is "Taken For a Fool." The verses sorta remind me of Michael Jackson or something a bit but the chorus is classic Strokes. I have to say my least favorite song on the album is "Two Kinds of Happiness." The melody isn't catchy and is too simple sounding. Also, just on a side note, I've seem some comments where people say "Gratisfaction" is a ripoff of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young." I do hear some similarity but not nearly enough to call it a rip off. Interesting comparison nonetheless. I hear The Strokes are already working on their 5th album. I look forward to it. Haven't given up on them yet.
    TommyGunn9999
    rko wrote: It's a great album. Sure, old Strokes are awesome but they can't make the same music they were making so many years ago. FIOE took a few listens for me to get into but it might just be my favourite album and i'm sure this one will be up there too.
    Thank you! I'm sick of people talking about FIOE like it was a disaster that Angles has repared. FIOE was an amazingly good album and really fun to play on guitar.
    Scarlettred
    These eclectic sounds on this album are so calmly approached as if Casablancas intended to take so long to to achieve such a Great album. Although the lyrics to each song arent to shabby The Strokes Choose to sing what they choose to sing. This is a album worth listening to over and over.
    dglsconklin
    I'm really loving "Gratisfaction" and "Taken for a Fool." The others are starting to grow on me too, but they took much longer. I'm sure the people looking for something like "Is This It" are really disappointed, but those of us who kept an open mind and realized that Julian would probably bring an influence from his solo project should be delightfully surprised. Like the review says, give the album a few listens before you make a judgment.
    InfernalFender
    I really can't understand why it's attracting such negative feedback. I fell in love with this album on my first playthrough. Very quirky with interesting hooks.
    AngryGoldfish
    "first impressions of The Strokes'" Nice pun. This is easily the most exciting new release for me personally. I think I'm one of the few fans of The Strokes on UG.
    larrytheguitar
    ^ Kerokero is right. The new single is, IMO, the best song on the album. I'm glad they're back, and the album is refreshing, but it doesn't stick as much as their older albums.
    dollyDagger
    I met Julian Cassablancas in Melbourne. This sounds pretty average from what I've heard.
    joshw17
    I think the impossibly high expectations have created a hostile environment amongst some fans. Waiting five years shouldn't take away from such a colorful (musically as well as visually) album. We're not being given 10 tracks to satiate us through another hiatus, but we are seeing a band that might be trying to re-decide what it wants to be. Strokes No. 5 within a year?
    SkinnyWhiteBoy
    This album is what I imagine they were trying to do with First Impressions Of Earth. The one thing I didn't like about FIOE was that it was strangely awkward at parts (thus disrupting the flow of the album). However, I feel like Angles isn't as half-assed at FIOE, and I actually really like the odd catchiness of songs like Machu Picchu and Gratisfaction. The best part of The Strokes is how whimsically catchy they've always been, and I feel like this album did that old Strokes catchiness much justice. Sure, it might not sound like old Strokes, but its just as catchy, and different while being refreshing and not stale like FIOE. Idk, I just feel like FIOE was meant to sound ambitious in comparison to the first two records, but it just lacked that Strokes catchiness and charm. Angles, I believe, does well what FIOE couldn't. I'm honestly surprised that the fans aren't as tired of hearing the old songs as the Strokes are (more than likely) tired of playing them. The fans are split, and the sad part is that if they had just made a re-hashed old Strokes album, there would be just as much hate. To the fans who love the old Strokes, I'm with you on that, but we've had our fun with those timeless tunes and they will always be there for us. However others, also like myself, wanted to see The Strokes try something new and go full force with it. They knew what they wanted and they delivered it. If you don't like the album, at least respect the band for having the balls to make an album that they probably knew some wouldn't want, and an album that nobody was expecting. I'm just glad to be one of the fans that really enjoys this release, and isn't phased by its oddities. Oh, and... Is This It = Room On Fire = Angles > First Impressions Of Earth P.S. I'm just glad its not FIOE: Part Deux!
    rko
    It's a great album. Sure, old Strokes are awesome but they can't make the same music they were making so many years ago. FIOE took a few listens for me to get into but it might just be my favourite album and i'm sure this one will be up there too.
    ryanbu
    Just finished my first listen, was hoping for something with a little more edge and aggression in it. As already said too much 80's sounding for my liking. Still looking forward to further releases though.
    Timothy O.
    I like the album. It's not as great as the hype built up to be (but whatever is?) but it wasn't bad. I just wish it didn't sound so robotic. Like, everything on the album has this really... tinny feel to it. Maybe it's just me that noticed that. Otherwise I'm pretty satisfied with it.
    manicmuso
    I'm not a massive Strokes fan but I've come to understand they're a band that you can rely on to make some good songs, even if they're not going to change the world. Sadly, with this album I cannot apply this theory. The album is not up to the standard we've come to expect of them and once again there have been not signs of evolution in the band. All the songs could be placed on other albums and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The first single just doesn't sound right either. The guitar work on it is good in places but the singing really isn't right for the song. I want to be able to say "another solid effort from the Strokes" but it isn't. It's clear the tensions between band members is taking its toll on the music. The album almost sounds incomplete.
    dannydesktop
    Yeah i think this is their weakest album. Too Synthy, Too into the 80s schtick. seems more like a continuation of julians solo stuff but worse. First impressions is better then this album at least it had some intense tracks like heart in a cage and juicebox. I may like it after more listens but this isn't doing it for me like their first album and their harder stuff off the last two albums. The single is the best song on here. Tracks like your so right are just boring. I'm a bit Disappointed in this album but i still have the old stuff to listen to so i will forever be a fan.
    Jimmy_Page_Zep
    I've listened to this album a few times so far, and it's gotten better every time. Some of the tracks are a little 80's and cheesy-sounding, but there are a lot of brilliant guitar lines. All and all not a bad album. I don't think it's nearly as good as Is This It or Room On Fire, but it's much better than Julian's solo work. Under Cover of Darkness is a really catchy tune, and by far my favourite on the album. Not sure if it was worth the 5 year wait, but it's new music from a great band, so I'm not complaining!!!
    GREENWARRI0R
    This is an album that needs to be listened to more than once, from start to finish.
    good job describing just about every album ever written