I’ve been a huge fan of The Strokes ever since they came into the public eye with their 2001 release “Is This It” which featured the hit single “Last Night”. The band then had to endure being raked over the coals by the critics and the fashionistas. Their response was to break up and try to launch several ill-fated solo efforts. Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. all released solo albums to good critical response but underwhelming fan response. Finally in 2009 the members began writing new material for a brand new Strokes album.
That album was released on March 18, 2011 and is titled “Angles”. So how is it? Well, Angles is a big step forward for The Strokes. You can tell that the band was rejuvenated by the hiatus. The Strokes sound like they approached this album with a hunger to put out a higher quality album. Maybe it had something to do with the less than stellar response to the solo albums or maybe they just missed playing together. Either way the band really sounds like they’re trying to be great on “Angles”.
The production quality of “Angles” is a higher quality than any of The Strokes previous albums. The band’s playing is very tight and the guitar work is exceptional. Valensi and Hammond’s playing is extremely locked-in and the parts each guitarist play compliment each other to build the music. I think what I like the most about this album is how each member of The Strokes is fitting into the “band is greater than the individual parts” concept. Each player is working to build up the song and I really like that.
I’ve read that the players tracked their parts separately on this album. That’s fine because the parts still have to fit together to make the whole thing work and the Strokes have achieved that on “Angles”. This album is very locked into a groove and that’s been a calling card of The Strokes from the very beginning. Call it “production” if you will but it all adds up to better sound quality and a tighter feel. Even Casablancas is singing with more range and a better feel for melody.
There are classic Strokes moments like on the first single “Under Cover Of Darkness” which should keep the purists happy that the band isn’t changing that much. But I really like to hear the band stretching out on songs like “You’re So Right” which is a major departure from the standard Strokes formula. “Angles” is proof that The Strokes are getting better at what they do and that they are maturing as musicians.
To sum it up, I highly recommend The Strokes – Angles album for anyone that loves guitar music and rock-n-roll. This is a very fun album to listen to and it just seems to get better every time I listen to it.