The Strokes Angles

The Strokes Angles
When the Strokes released First Impressions of Earth in 2006, it was the first sign they would no longer re-tread the ground they broke on their seminal debut album. But despite the legend of them revolutionizing rock'n'roll, they were never the type of band to stick to a good thing. Album number four finds the Strokes striving to become innovators, distancing themselves from the band that wrote Is This It. Thankfully, Angles returns to their snappy time management (ten songs in 38 minutes), a lesson they learned from the cumbersome length of First Impressions. Single "Under Cover of Darkness" gave us a reason to be excited ― as immediate as pop songs get nowadays, the tight, punchy arrangement is arguably the best thing they've done in ten years. "Gratisfaction," meanwhile, is a terrific attempt at out Thin-Lizzying Thin Lizzy, with its feel-good chorus and blasé riffage. Those two songs, along with semi-throwback "Taken For A Fool," exemplify the band's sharpest assets: terse rock'n'roll featuring the best dual guitar show in the business. But over the past five years, the Strokes found themselves experimenting and Angles feels most like a showcase for their discoveries. The reggae-lite sway of "Maccu Picchu" feels like an inside joke that was mistakenly included; "Call Me Back" is so subtle it starts and ends without notice; and the cold, synth-y tones of "Games" suggests the future of this band could be doing Tubeway Army covers. As frontman Julian Casablancas points out, "everybody's singing the same song for ten years," so it's understandable they reached this "second chapter" of their life. However, Angles is too disjointed and bogged down by creative risks to believe the Strokes are looking to reach a third chapter. (RCA)