Album Review No; 1
2001. New York. Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Nikolai Frature, Fab Moretti and Julian Casablancas. The Strokes. A band producing one of the decades best albums in the form of Is This It. (No there is no question mark). Hard To Explain, Someday and The Modern Age, influencing the likes of the Arctic Monkeys to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. 10 years pass. Two more albums. A gap. And then this. ANGLES. The Strokes return. And the result.....
ANGLES opens strong. Machu Picchu is dominated by the White Fender Strat of Albert Hammond Jr jolting note to note, Julian enters, husked and gritty. The chorus bears witness to Valensi's rhythm twinned with Hammond's alternative distortion. It works well. It soon becomes clear that this is going to be a different ride to Is This It, Room on Fire and First Impressions. Even the artwork has changed. Change Change Change.
Easing past Under The Cover of Darkness (listen to Radio One, its on their main play list), Julian and the New Yorkers create two numbers which take us back to the 1980s. Almost grunge-esc in tempo and vocals, but it kind of works. Taken for a Fool, epic in introduction (albeit short), and classic in structure. This sees The Strokes revert back to the latter ends of First Impressions, before kicking into a chorus which suits this new image down to a tee. Its snappy and sharp. This really works. The guitars sound superb coinciding with Mr Casablancas lyrics.
The latter periods of the album see the best work. Gratisfaction is a must listen. Its so brilliantly new. The group harmonise on the chorus to back Julian, only slightly, but enough to make a serious impact and a definite sign of unity (forget the doubters). Just listen to the lyrics.
The moral of this tale; its not Is This It. Its not even close. But its not 2001. The Strokes have evolved, and too right. The context has changed, in ten years, they have all changed. ANGLES follows solo projects, marriages, kids! The Strokes are no longer the young men staying on each others sofas, no longer staying up all night in bars sipping down buds and smoking endless cigarettes (fair enough Albert still is). ANGLES signifies a return. It signifies brilliance reunited. And it works superbly well. Headlining festivals all over Europe this summer (put money on Reading & Leeds), The Strokes find themselves firmly back. Back in 2011. Not back to 2001. Moving forward with maybe the odd look back. Change is a good thing.
Change is essential.