Apr 18, 2011 Web Exclusive
The Strokes found themselves in the right place at the right time circa post-9/11 New York City. Released in October 2001, the epochal Is This It (great with or without “New York City Cops” being excised in the domestic issue) sent up all the right influences—the dank “Waitin’ For the Man” decadence of The Velvets, the clean-yet-rocking Tom Verlaine-esque guitars, and the unhinged debauchery of Iggy & the Stooges. But what they ultimately reflected was the slovenly, fuck-all attitude engendered by the town in the wake of a highly politicized and exploited tragedy. They just wanted to take drugs, drink, rock, and essentially roll us back to an ’80s Less than Zero style of living.
Following up that record’s always going to be a Sisyphean task for the band, one they haven’t quite met yet, but Angles is certainly one of the more spirited records they’ve created post Is this It. Julian Casablancas has improved immensely as a singer over the years, as on the punchy, Pixies-esque “Under Cover of Darkness,” making the prosaic sentiment, “Don’t go that way/I’ll wait for you” sound utterly profound with the sheer guts and force with which it is delivered.
“You’re So Right” is another highlight, burying itself in the murk and jangle of R.E.M.-circa Fables of the Reconstruction, as Casablancas cryptically intones, “Tell me what happened if you like/Get off on the same floor every night,” before the track flowers into a gorgeous arpeggiated chorus, courtesy of Albert Hammond, Jr. just as much copping Johnny Marr as Peter Buck. Call it The Strokes’ ’80s indie heroes homage.
“I wish I left you/‘cause we never grew up,” confesses Casablancas on the Wire-esque post-punk stabs of “Taken For a Fool.” It recalls his standout guest vocal on the Dark Night of the Soul track “Little Girl,” on which he urged, “Only someone with the mind of a child says they’ll grow up.” And The Strokes haven’t grown up and made a mature album by any stretch here. They’re maturing gracelessly, still in love with the fool’s gold myth of rock and roll, which is precisely why Angles succeeds as a record. (www.thestrokes.com)
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