Review: The Strokes, ‘Angles’

Review: The Strokes, ‘Angles’: Aidin Vaziri | The Strokes have already taken all the air out of the arrival of their long-awaited fourth album, “Angles.” The members of the svelte New York band have gone to great lengths to let anyone with a pen and notebook know how painful the recording sessions were, with productive spells happening intermittently and singer Julian Casablancas not even showing up in the studio but submitting his vocal tracks via e-mail. “I won’t do the next album we make like this,” guitarist Nick Valensi recently groused to Pitchfork. “No way. It was awful – just awful.” He then gave it another kick: “I feel like we have a better album in us, and it’s going to come out soon.” Is it really that bad? With just 10 songs, the Strokes certainly haven’t lost their sense of economy. But “Angles” does lack the urgency and focus of their best album, 2001’s “Is This It?” Apart from the first single, “Under Cover of Darkness,” the songs don’t sound much like the Strokes. They’re not quite different enough to herald a full Radiohead-style reinvention, either, even if the skeletal synthesizer jam “You’re So Right” sounds like a halfhearted attempt to rewrite “Like Spinning Plates.” Instead, most of the album is rooted in seductively primitive ’80s pop – “Macchu Picchu” could have been lifted from an early Duran Duran B-side, “Taken for a Fool” would probably be better served by Ric Ocasek’s insouciant delivery, and “Gratisfaction” sounds so oddly familiar that Bob Seger’s lawyers might consider buying some stamps. It’s understated and disarmingly minimalist, yes, but not nearly as awful as the band seems to think. Well, except for the cover art.

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