Since the release of their iconic debut album Is This It, The Strokes have spent the last decade trying to recreate the success and quality they achieved the first time round. With every attempt this task proves to get increasingly harder and regrettably it shows. This album appears to be another sub-optimum effort. However, this seems to be the problem; both listeners and the band have taken this search for an equally brilliant record too much to heart. This is perhaps highlighted by the fact that it took them nearly five years to produce this follow up to First Impressions of Earth.
On first listen, Angles sounds like same old Strokes. All the elements that made them great are still present. There are still the enchanting chiming guitars providing a beautifully layered backdrop, allowing Julian Casablancas’ subtly screaming vocals to duel delightfully with Hammond Jr’s guitar riffs and solos in the foreground. ‘Machu Picchu’ and ‘Under Cover of Darkness’, being the highlights of the record, displaying all these features that won’t leave any fans disappointed.
However, the downfall of the album is that it isn’t much more than a collection of good songs, not the superb overall album that their debut was. On subsequent plays the confrontation and dysfunction of the recording process come to the surface. There’s no feeling of connection between the members, perhaps caused by the fact that Casablancas removed himself from the recording process, recording the majority of his vocals at Electric Lady Studios alone. The once delightful duelling now feels like a fight for attention. Casablancas may have wanted the others to contribute more to the creation of the album by working alone, but the lack of chemistry is detrimental to the quality. Songs like ‘You’re So Right’ and ‘Call Me Back’ sound awkward and show that they’re still a long way away from recreating their better, earlier sound.
This album is in no way lesser than Room on Fire or First Impressions of Earth and equals them as a collection of good songs but unfortunately this isn’t their best effort. The band admit themselves that they have a better album in them as they start work on their fifth album. Fans will hope that it will be more comparable to the quality of the classic that was Is This It because this is not.
From Josh Bragg