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The Strokes Angles
Released 18 March 2011

Gus Oberg, Joe Chicarelli,
The Strokes
Label Rough Trade
Length 34:43
Genre New Wave, Indie Rock
Website new.thestrokes.com

Given that it’s been five years since the forgettable First Impressions Of Earth, you’d be forgiven for wondering just how much interest the public would have in the latest release from The Strokes but thanks to a premier of the lead single 'Under the Cover of Darkness' and a gushing interview to accompany it on Zane Lowe’s radio show, the collective interest appears to have been piqued. So will Angles prove to be worth the wait?

With 'Under the Cover of Darkness' sounding like vintage Strokes, I suspected that Angles may have been a safe album, returning to the formula of punchy garage rock that served them well with Is This It, so the first surprise comes with the 1980s Caribbean beat of opening track 'Machu Picchu'. There is a laid back feel to the song with the guitars and vocals kicking in with a bit more venom towards the end. I was surprised with the amount of experimentation on Angles, 'Games' further utilizes the Caribbean style while 'You’re So Right' and 'Call Me Back' both mess with the idea of song structure by switching between musical ideas without ever really going anywhere.

That’s not to say Angles doesn’t manage to capture the instant gratification of the best Strokes songs; the interplay between the guitars, bass and vocals on 'Taken For a Fool' matches 'Reptilia' for its intricacies. 'Metabolism' mixes a heavy riff with a soaring chorus and a touch of strings that makes it seem like a Bond theme tune at times. 'Gratisfaction' is a nod to 1970s rock; mixing elements of Steely Dan, Thin Lizzy and Queen, all three songs proving that The Strokes are still masters of the cool and the catchy.

There is a determination by The Strokes here to prove that they are more than just a garage band. A failure to revert to the original formula and the inclusion of the more experimental songs may earn this album some mixed reviews from fans and critics but it is definitely a grower once it is given a bit of patience. There is a definite feeling of a fresh start for The Strokes and there is already talk of a follow up album due for release next year, if it manages to build on the improvement of Angles we could be in for quite a treat.

- Brian Kinsella