Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Strokes - Angles


Taken For a Fool
Life is Simple in the Moonlight

First Impressions of Earth was a spectacular letdown, but because the first two Strokes records are so great I'll continue to give them chances. Most of us were amped for the first single we would hear in five years, and in some ways it shares commonalities with our favorite Strokes songs; the distorted vocals are back, the chorus is great and Fab is drumming with the same purpose he always has. But, where at one point the intricate weaving of duel guitars was the group's strength, they've developed a habit of trying to fit too many ideas into 3-minute pop tracks. The riffs throughout the intro and verse for "Under Cover of Darkness" are so exaggerated they undermine the overall quality of what could be a great song.

A few weeks after hearing that first single, but before the release of Angles, the Strokes performed on Saturday Night Live. They opened with a performance of the single they had been pushing for the past month, but the highlight was their closer. Always saving the best for last, the Strokes played the album's last track, “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” It's one of their most unique song since Is This It. A ballad by Strokes standards, the melody flows naturally, and the restrained solo by Valensi hearkens to the discipline they harnessed in their prime. It surprises me in the least it’s one of two Casablancas solo compositions on Angles.

So there was hope again.

Unfortunately, after countless times streaming Angles upon its release, nothing matched the quality of “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” One of the few highlights is “Taken For a Fool,” the closest thing you’ll find to Is This It or Room on Fire. The Tom Petty influenced “Two Kinds of Happiness” is surprisingly enjoyable but loses focus during its course. And for the few solid songs there are equal duds. “You’re So Right” follows the awful “Juicebox” approach to mechanical rock’n’roll, “Games” is something between a New Order and Madonna mash-up, with awful execution, and then there’s “Metabolism”, some sort of waltzy-gothy-indie concoction. The rest fall into comfortable mediocrity

The Strokes have gathered a lot of great ideas for an EP’s worth of material, but when stretched unnaturally over ten songs, Angles is disjointed, lacking a clear trajectory. By choosing "Under Cover of Darkness" as the album's first single The Strokes can't say they didn't prepare us adequately.

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