I was on Long Island visiting family when Angles, the new album from The Strokes finally leaked. It was another 12 hours before I filled my ears with NYC's favorite sons on the plane back to Fort Lauderdale. What I got, from the first track to the last, is the best album the band has released since Is This It, and I loved Room On Fire. A lot.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Strokes - Taken For A Fool
What I've seen in the last several days though, with the exception of a really strange review from Rolling Stone's David Fricke, is a bunch of overly bitter hipster critics telling the world that The Strokes sound bored and the album is mediocre at best. Are you guys for real? It's one thing when fans, who have been trained to expect the Is This It until they're told not to, express disappointment. In another week, when they're still listening to it, something will hit them in the face. That's fine. But critics, have you lost your damn minds?
Unless you hate The Strokes, and if you do then you likely haven't read this far anyway, Is This It was probably the first perfect record of the new decade and century when it came out. All 10 songs are flawless and, for the time, sounded like nobody else getting mass market attention. The follow-up, Room On Fire, was a progression, though slight, from its predecessor, and was referred to as a copycat album. The great irony is that on the third album, First Impressions of Earth, The Strokes tried to completely remake things and, though they were commended for the effort, the album tanked and the band took a much needed break.
Around the point that people started wondering if they'd ever be back together, because nearly all the members had been putting out solo albums and apparently not talking, word came that the band had started to slowly work on new stuff. Based on the interviews that have come out in the last several weeks, leading up to next week's actual release, Angles was not an easy album to write and record.
The big difference this time around is that rather than the other four Strokes building on top of frontman Julian Casablancas song ideas, everybody contributed and sort of worked together. What we've got, really, is an album that brings in all sorts of stuff from the first three albums - most notably that classic Strokes sound of the first two albums - that meshes with influences as disparate as reggae, 70s AOR and all sorts of 80s stuff. Like any great record, the more you listen, the more you get. And boy, is there a lot here.
On Is This It, there's a part of the band that sounds unsure of itself. On Room On Fire, they new exactly what they were doing and had the world in their palm of their hands. With Angles, it's almost like they're starting over, but they know that each of the band members has pushed each other to the limit and now its time to get down to business. Why else would we be "singing the same song for the last 10 years?" "Last Nite" wasn't that good of a song. Well, yes it was, but still, you see where I'm coming from.
I've been through this album at least twice a day since Monday. Every song sticks out, and the band doesn't sound bored. They sound just like they did on Is This It - flipping the bird to the world, effortlessly and with fake disinterest. What a great damn band.
Buy Angles from Shockhound.