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In Short: The Strokes ‘Angles’

To say that ‘Angles’, the long awaited followed to 2006’s ‘First Impressions Of Earth’, came with high expectations would be a severe understatement. This is The Strokes afterall, and despite the fact that arguably nothing they have done since ‘Is This It’ has lived up to their debut, each of their new releases is almost universally expected to be amazing.

And ‘Angles’ isn’t amazing. It’s a very competent and at times very enjoyable album, and in my opinion it’s nowhere near as shit as everyone has been saying it is. But it is most definitely not amazing.

This being said, the first half of the album is pretty great. Under Cover Of Darkness, the first single of the album, is also unquestionably the record’s strongest track, and it harks back to older Strokes music in a way that fans will find very comforting indeed. Equally Two Kinds Of Happiness is a genuinely great song, carried by a powerful guitar-driven chorus like most worthwhile Strokes songs.

But the rest of the album never really lives up to these two songs. Whilst Machu Picchu and Taken For A Fool are still pretty good tracks, the divide between the aforementioned songs and the filler material of the album is very noticeable. There are a handful of thoroughly forgettable songs on ‘Angles’, and whilst this certainly isn’t unprecedented for The Strokes, it is still very disappointing.

What’s missing here is the effortless cool that The Strokes seemed to exude on their past albums. Whilst interviews with bandmembers seem to illustrate that the recording process for every album was painstaking and drawn out, this is the first time that this is obvious when listening to the album. You can’t help but feel The Strokes are trying harder than they ever have before, and this takes away a surprising amount of charm from their music.

I sincerely hope that ‘Angles’ is an album written almost entirely for live shows. The Strokes live are still fantastic, and so long as they don’t overplay this record I think it could really add to their gigs. There are a handful of songs here that would be genuinely thrilling to hear live, with the obvious standouts being Under The Cover Of Darkness and Taken For A Fool.

This isn’t a shit album, but it’s also not outstanding. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the last full-length album from The Strokes, and I think I actually prefer ‘Angles’ to ‘First Impressions Of Earth’. I’m somewhat shocked at the speed with which this album has been demonised. But then in all fairness it’s not fantastic, and that in itself is very disappointing for a band of the calibre of The Strokes.

It’s just kind of ‘good’, and whether that is a positive or a negative thing will depend solely on the mindset you go into ‘Angles’ with.

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