I was working for the now-defunct Sam Goody a decade ago when THE STROKES burst onto the scene with their now-classic album IS THIS IT. The band was instantly compared to a host of acts from the 1970’s, but aside from their lo-fi garage rock approach, I could never find a definitive link between them and any of the bands they were supposedly aping. What mattered is that THE STROKES had a sound that was drastically different from what everyone else was doing at the time, and the album rocked. Ten years later, the band has released ANGLES, an album that confirms what many have suspected: lightning does not strike twice for The Strokes.
Having followed a clear path of declining quality from their first to third albums, ANGLES marks a band on the upswing, though not as good as 2003’s ROOM ON FIRE. If their first couple of albums represented a band with roots in the 70’s, then ANGLES represents a shift into the 1980’s. The cover art alone is enough to make you recall the early days of MTV, and the audio contents have more in-common with Hearbeat City-era CARS than the fuzzed out guitars present on their earlier works.
Released as a single a few months ago, “Under Cover of Darkness” is the hook to make listeners believe that The Strokes have returned to that first album glory, but nothing else on ANGLES comes close to that same sound. Songs like “Two Kinds of Happiness” and “Games” sound like forgotten soundtrack material, while“Gratisfaction” plays like a piano-less Billy Joel. Some of the weirder moments such as “Call Me Back” are the true highlights here.
Overall, ANGLES is a good album, albeit an uneven one that feels rushed despite a five-year wait.