The Strokes, Angles
Official release date: March 22, 2011
As previously noted by Vulture, Angles — which is both the Strokes' first “comeback” album and the first to be made without front man Julian Casablancas exercising dictatorial powers — was recorded with a healthy dollop of “why, exactly, are we doing this?”–itis. So does that kind of hilarious ambivalence make itself explicit on the freshly leaked Angles? On the first few listens: Um, like, maybe? A little? We're not totally sure.
Lead-off track “Macchu Picchu” is guitarist Nick Valensi's first songwriting credit and is definitely our favorite so far. Alternating sharply between a simple head-bop-worthy bass-and-beat combo and a messier chorus, it's a nice setup for the more direct “Under Cover of Darkness.” Then we run into “Two Kinds of Happiness,” where a pillowy intro gets broken up by a squirrelly guitar riff, and “You're So Right,” the most stereotypically insouciant moment on the album. “Taken for a Fool” gets us a bit more buoyant again, even if lyrics like “I don't need anyone with me right now / Monday, Tuesday is my weekend” sound like they could be about Casablancas's drinking problems. On the album's second half, though, a certain “hunched shoulder” vibe makes itself known: On “Games,” it's the repetition of the annoyingly stock phrase “living in an empty world”; on “Call Me Back,” it's the small, sharp guitar line. The last lines of the album, on “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight,” are “don't try and stop us, don't try and stop us, don't try and stop us / get out of the way.” Inside joke?