March 2011; RCA Records
By Emily J Ramey
So far as I can tell The Strokes newest release is causing controversy, a rift, if you will, among fans and critics. Listeners that relished in the darkened, raw fascinations of the band’s previous works may not welcome Angles’ differences, but early critiques of The Strokes’ fourth studio album are praising their radical ingenuity and youthful willingness to change their winning formula without turning their backs on it altogether.
I have to side with my fellow critics on this one though. I haven’t been much of a Strokes fan in the past, and not because I can’t appreciate the shadowy places from which Casablancas’ creative springs flowed, but there just wasn’t more than one or two tracks for me to grab hold of. Angles however sprawls musically, but without feeling scattered, courses without overflowing, thaws without burning.
The first Strokes record written collaboratively as a band is happier than ever before; in fact, at times I would even call it positively bouncy. Highlights include kitschy opener “Machu Picchu,” which seems to serve as the bastard child of Muse and Hot Fuss-era Killers; new wavy “Two Kinds of Happiness” and its master guitar work; “Taken for a Fool,” which is the closest on Angles to old Strokes material; the Billy Joel-ish “Gratisfaction;” and the broad, beautiful “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight.”
The Strokes seem to be turning a corner and looking west into a summery, molten setting sun. It’s different than previous albums, but it’s worthwhile in its own right. Give Angles a chance.