Review: The Strokes - Angles

Released: Monday 21st March

Friday, 11th March 2011, 10:17 am

Remember how we lived 10 years ago? X-Factor had yet to brainwash the nation, a game of Snake was the height of mobile phone technology and the charts were awash with a sickening cocktail of Dido, Limp Bizkit and David Gray.

Then along came The Strokes, who single-handedly changed the landscape of music and popular culture overnight.

Within the blink of an eye the world was wearing Converse and ripped skinny jeans and championing the likes of Kings of Leon, The Hives and The Libertines.

Now, 2011 is a very different time, so will The Strokes recapture the imagination of the modern age or leave us asking ‘Is This It?’

“I’ve been out around this town and everybody’s singing the same song for 10 years,” drawls frontman Julian Casablancas on recent single Under Cover Of Darkness.

It’s as if he’s facing up to his own public, who are still obsessed with the revolutionary Last Night, and saying: “Get over it, this is who we are now.”

And the music backs him up, as the song has all of the hallmarks of what makes The Strokes great – infectious interlocking guitars and an inescapable air of cool – but carried forwards by a mature approach in which the song wanders along a multi-layered journey.

It only takes a few moments of the calypso-reggae beat and sound of Hammond and Valensi’s symbiotic shredding on Machu Picchu to fall back in love with The Strokes, before the dreamy new wave kick of Two Kinds of Happiness shows that they’ve still so much more to offer.

With an acidic tone and sinisterly relentless metronomic rhythm, You’re So Right is like the leaner and darker young brother of Juicebox while Games sounds like the 8-bit synth-soaked soundtrack to an underground level for an old Nintendo game.

Many bands may briefly fall into repetition or self-parody by their fourth record, and Angles is no exception.

Gratisfaction lazily attempts to capture the free and easy spirit of their debut while Metabolism would have fit comfortably on First Impressions On Earth, but you can’t help but sense The Strokes taking a confident stride forwards.

There’s that familiar charming simplicity that runs throughout the record, but met with subtle precision and a modest but unflinching sense of adventure.

Whereas Is This It seduced you with its laconic nonchalance and laissez faire hipster swagger, the short and sharp 10-song kick of Angles is a polished and punctual lesson in well-sculpted pop.

The Strokes haven’t reinvented the wheel, but their new model is faster, more efficient and highly advanced. If this is it, then I’ll have some more please.

By Andrew Trendell