There have been too many times in the last five years when I thought this day would never come. But The Strokes’ fourth album has arrived, and the results are really freaking sexy.
The Strokes’ new album, “Angles,” their first since 2006, is just that: five men (we can call them that now) coming from all different directions to create a “Miami Vice”-styled rock ‘n’ roll gem.
The album opens with “Machu Picchu,” a song reminiscent of Inner Circles’ “Bad Boys,” a.k.a the “COPS” theme song, that quickly moves into those fast-paced/repetitious chords the band does so well. If you look at the first lines in every Strokes album you’ll notice those words tend to set the tone for what’s to come. This time, The Strokes waste no time in stating the obvious: “I’m putting your patience to the test.”
The second track and first single, “Under Cover of Darkness,” is joyful and danceable, similar to tunes like “Someday” and “12:51.” There’s a sort of effortlessness that’s back, a sound The Strokes lost on their third and more ambitious album, “First Impressions of Earth.” But like that album, the entire sound of “Angles” is crystal clear. Not only will this album satisfy the needs of die-hard fans who have waited patiently for a new addition to their Strokes library, but it might even have the power to gain a whole new generation’s love.
There are my favorites, like the drum-heavy “Gratisfaction” that almost sounds like something off a Billy Joel album circa 1980, and “Taken For A Fool,” a track that, if you close your eyes, could make you swear you were in some smoky discotheque in Paris.
There are misses too, songs like “You’re So Right,” and “Two Kinds Of Happiness” that are too fast-paced, almost headache-inducing. But what The Strokes do best with “Angles” are slow jams like “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight” and “Call Me Back,” a song which recalls “The Girl From Impanema,” while still sounding like a seductive lull into a rock ‘n’ roll dream.
“Is This It?,” the album that The Strokes are destined to be measured by over and over again, offered a feeling that some people of our generation thought they could find in this city. Whether it was the muffled-amp presets on Nick Valensi’s hollow-bodied Epiphone Riviera or Julian Casablancas’ mouth-against-mic approach, that album held a magic that could transform my teenage bedroom in the middle of nowhere Texas — and probably a lot of teenage bedrooms in other small towns — into the dirty and less-than-perfect streets of New York City. But by the time we got here it was all gone.
By 2006 The Strokes had exhausted each other and had their eyes set on different surroundings, new friends, and their own individual sounds. Albert Hammond Jr. released two well-received solo records. Fabrizio Morretti got a little hippie on us, hanging out with people like Devendra Banhart and starting his band Little Joy. Nikolai Fraiture became “Nickel Eye” with the help of a steel guitar and Julian Casablancas took a time machine to the ‘80s with his solo album, “Phrazes For The Young.” The coolest part about this new album is that you get to hear all of that, plus The Strokes.
The thing that sets “Angles” apart is that it doesn’t sound like New York anymore. And in lines like, “I’ve been all around this town/Everybody’s been singing the same song for ten years,” you can kind of understand why they had to leave each other in order to get back the simplicity that made them so damn good in the first place.