by The Strokes

After an initial explosion onto the music scene in 2001 with their superb debut album Is This It, The Strokes have been positively low key ever since. It may have something to do with the fact that their style of music isn’t currently in vogue, which is a crying shame when you consider what is.

boom - The Strokes Angles album image

But it’s probably fair to say that Julian Casablancas and the rest of the band aren’t ones for compromise; if there’s a music fad riding through town, they’re highly unlikely to jump right on it.

This latest album – their fourth – is awash with nostalgia, stepping back in time about as often as a certain Time Lord.

The bouncy ‘Machu Picchu’ has their trademark guitars that sound like they’re just dipped in dirt they’re that filthy. It’s also the closest thing that resembles a standard pop song on the whole album, without being anywhere near standard.

It’s rare to have an up tempo ballad, but that’s exactly what ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ is. Casablancas is vocally heartfelt, upon the most vibrant of musical beds. It’s boppy, as well as being anthemic with its stirring chorus. It would sound great in any stadium. It’s also no surprise that it was chosen as the first single either.

Casablancas does a little tweaking to his voice on ‘Two Kinds of Happiness’; both vocally and instrumentally it gets very seventies Tom Petty, so much so that he would be a riot at a karaoke party ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’. Overall the track has a lot of unexpected fizz.

There’s a disturbing sense of urgency with the arrival of ‘You’re So Right’. Right from the off, it goes like the clappers, on an electro journey that passes through sporadic guitar fields. It’s not a pretty sight, but at least it’s got bags of energy.

With Tom petty put to one side, Casablancas pulls another party trick out of the bag; this time with a song that’s just pure Chili Peppers from beginning to end. It’s partly down to the use of the bass, but really, if you close your eyes, you’d swear Anthony Kiedis has possessed him.

‘Games’ is a little electro gem, with just a hint of early Human League about it. It’s like the eighties never went away.

Up to this point the album has been pretty full on, so it kicks back a tad with ‘Call Me Back’. There’s a whimsical quality to it, with an eerie element that recalls a somewhat disturbing carnivale atmosphere. If it were human, we wouldn’t stand too close to it, that’s for sure.

With the eighties ticked off the musical time-travelling list, ‘Gratisfaction’ has its flares most definitely flapping about in the seventies. If we didn’t know any better, we’d swear it was a musical nod to Thin Lizzy.

The more familiar grinding sound we associate with the band makes an appearance here, albeit fairly late in the day. ‘Metabolism’ is classic Strokes. And that’s all that really needs to be said on the matter.

Drawing the album to a close is ‘Life is Simple in the Moonlight’. It concludes the band’s musical tour through time with a New Order-esque track. It’s a little soft around the edges, but it does the job. The vocals aren’t its strong point, but then again they never were in New Order either, so it’s possibly a job well done.

All in all it’s a breezy journey, clocking in at 34 minutes in total. And that’s part of the album’s charm; with only one of the ten tracks breaking the 4 minute mark, each track does its darndest not to outstay its welcome. So even if you weren’t keen on one track in particular, it’s hardly worth you getting up to move the track on because by the time you got there it would be over anyway.

It may not be an album keen on breaking any moulds, but there’s something on the comforting side about the band just expressing their love for bands and sounds that have been and gone. So it’s not cutting edge, but let’s face it, anything that is can be so overrated.

Angles is uncompromising in content, which just makes you appreciate it that little bit more. It’s an example of a band exploring it s musical roots, without the need to be pressured in producing whatever happens to be on trend. Play it, feel it, enjoy it.

four out of five