The Strokes, ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ – What Do You Think?

10 years almost to the day since they released their debut EP ‘The Modern Age’, The Strokes are back, with the first single from their forthcoming fourth album ‘Angles’. By now you’ve probably already grabbed your free download of ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ (though I hear the site just collapsed under the avalanche of hits) – so what do you make of it?

Instant reaction? It’s really rather magnificent. From the herky-jerky, harmony-guitar intro onwards, it combines some of the lopsidedness and awkwardness of ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ with something that’s been missing since ‘Is This It’: a sense of freewheeling joy.

There are shades of ‘Hard To Explain’ in the fact that ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ boasts not just one addictive chorus but two. Plus, is it my imagination or does Julian do a sort of melodic quotation from ‘Last Nite’ when he sings about not being a “puppet on a string” in the first verse?

Certainly, there’s a lightness of touch here – an effortlessness – that belies Nick Valensi’s talk of “hostility and resentment” in the studio. Apparently the band were getting on so badly Julian recorded his vocals entirely separately, on his own.

Well, it doesn’t show: ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ sounds like the work of a band who’ve stopped agonising over things, and fallen back in love with the art of penning simple, incisive hooks. It might have taken them four years to make this album, but remarkably its lead track doesn’t sound remotely laboured.

‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ is the first song to be taken from The Strokes’ new album, ‘Angles’, which was self-produced in Albert Hammond Jr’s own studio, and is out on March 21. It’ll be the New York band’s first album since 2006’s ‘First Impressions Of Earth’.

The Strokes, ‘Angles’ tracklisting

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Next week in NME: The Strokes’ world exclusive comeback interview, on sale Wednesday 16 February