The Strokes, ‘Angles’ – First Listen

The Strokes’ new album ‘Angles’ will be released on March 21. Lead track ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ was released recently as a free download. Emily Mackay gives the lowdown on ‘Angles’


Macchu Picchu
It’s an engaging start, tense and rippling with an odd sort of reggae-disco feel and an appealingly ragged chorus. The simple, 8-bit game soundtrack riff as jagged as the steps of the Inca ruin of the title, beset by Julian’s crow-like shrieks towards the end. In a Gaga-esque twist, he seems to be muttering something about dropping his NYC black-leather-clad chic in favour of “wearing a jacket made of meat”.

strokes album cover

Under Cover Of Darkness
The relief after a five-year-wait was made all the sweeter by that boogieing (yes, I did say that) glammy rhythm that made you remember what it was you loved about them in the first place; namely the way they could animate your feet independently of your brain like an insistent cutie on the dancefloor, cooing “ I want to be your puppet on a string”, then puncture your heart with a surprisingly moving, tears-behind-the-shades chorus: “Don’t go that way/I’ll wait for you… will you wait for me too?”

Strokes fans react to ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’

Two Kinds Of Happiness
Moody, murky and slightly sleazy seem to be the order of the day for ‘Angles’, and this one has a real ’80s shlock-pop, almost Bonnie Tyler or Bryan Adams vibe. Julian’s vocals are muffled, almost incomprehensible beneath a simple slashing riff that slices into a cascading tumble of a chorus.

You’re So Right
A brooding sort of surfy sci-fi feel, with robotically monotonous and electronically treated vocals. If you thought the guitar solo on ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ was ‘interesting’, wait until you hear this one; all hair metal twiddling, it’s almost Van Halen-worthy. Well, alright, I said ‘almost’.

Taken For A Fool
Like Liam Lynch doing his best Lou Reed impression, with silky and sinuous guitar lines twining round each other like mating snakes before ringing out in a bright siren of a chorus. Julian sounds mischievous, muttering “I know everyone goes every damn place they choose” before breaking into slightly unnerving bellows of “MAMA”. We get the feeling she can’t help him where he’s hanging out.

Minimal and glassy with a synth-poppy feel and gauzy disco shimmer leading into a full on New Order-style dance beat. It has an oddly elegiac feel, with Julian’s vocal sounding defeated and heartbroken as he moans “living in an empty world’ before endingin a full-throttle taut-throated wail.

Call Me Back
The simplest of needling riffs has a slight tango exoticism to it, Julian’s lazy, charming vocal more focused this time. A romantic meander with gentle twinkles lighting the fuzz is intercut with sections of strange chorused vocals and rising, circling oddly reminiscent of ‘Murder Mystery’ by The Velvet Underground.

A real twinkle-toed, sparkle-eyed shuffler that practically clicks its fingers on a street corner then buys you a milkshake. A sort of good-time Lou Reed sings Status Quo feel with a seriously ballsy chorus of ”You’re never gonna get my love”.

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A rolling, suspensefully villainous riff similar to ‘Heart In A Cage’. “I wanna be outrageous, but inside I know I’m plain” admits Julian, as the song settles into a steady chug through which struggling choruses break like last-ditch, do or die efforts

Life Is Simple In The Moonlight
You say that, Strokes, but lunar activity can seriously hamper many simple day-to-day activities. Anyway, an intro oddly reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Tine’, a glassy and delicate guitar line and Julian’s vocal all tentative and yearning-like make for a classy and soothing conclusion.

No massive shocks, then, but packed with moments that remind us what made The Strokes so lovable in the first place and subtle touches of experimentation, ‘Angles’ picks up some of the neon lounge-lizard vibes of ‘Phrazes For The Young’ but is itself a subtler, more enigmatic beast that will take repeated listens to reveal its true nature.

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