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Released: March 18, 2011

Rating: 3.772 (average of 17 ratings)

Genre: garage rock revival

Quotable: “Accordingly fractured and often inscrutable, but there are returns to form.” – Amanda Petrusich, Entertainment Weekly

Album Tracks:

  1. Machu Picchu [3:30]
  2. Under Cover of Darkness [3:56]
  3. Two Kinds of Happiness [3:44]
  4. You’re So Right [2:34]
  5. Taken for a Fool [3:23]
  6. Games [3:54]
  7. Call Me Back [3:05]
  8. Gratisfaction [2:59]
  9. Metabolism [3:06]
  10. Life Is Simple in the Moonlight [4:15]

Total Running Time: 34:43

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Under Cover of Darkness (2/9/11) #47 UK, #12 MR
  • Taken for a Fool (7/1/11) #32 MR

The Strokes
“Though the Strokes released three albums in the 2000s, by the end of the last decade it appeared they were destined to be remembered not for their music, but for what they shooed-out (nu-metal) and consequently ushered-in (a plethora of indie bands with the definite article in front of their names) on the crest of a wave of monumental hype. It was the right album at the right time, the perfect synthesis of style and substance. But the band couldn’t even take full credit for the album’s aftermath. The White Stripes broke at the same time” PMA and their “White Blood Cells may be the most influential rock album of the 2000s. With each album the White Stripes artfully grew and shifted…On the other hand, the Strokes seemed just fine with being the Strokes.” PMA Their sophomore effort, Room on Fire, was “eventually (and unjustly) written-off as a lesser rehash of their debut. The Strokes attempted to expand on their sound with 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, but the result was a bloated misfire. It intensified the long-nagging feeling that Is This It may have been an anomaly, or maybe even a fluke.” PMA

Angles, the Strokes’ fourth studio album, marks “their longest gap to date between two consecutive studio albums.” WK They “went on an extended hiatus in 2007 and then regrouped two years later to begin writing new material for a fourth album.” WK “The album took more than two years to materialize, with the band recording live demos of 18 songs before heading into Avatar Studios in New York with producer Joe Chiccarelli. Not long after recording began, however, the band became frustrated with Chicarelli’s reserved production style. Only one song from these recording sessions, Life Is Simple in the Moonlight, remained on the album’s track listing. Inspired, in part, by bands like MGMT, Arctic Monkeys, and Crystal Castles, The Strokes decided to experiment with various production techniques, and recorded the rest of the album’s material with award-winning engineer Gus Oberg at a converted farmhouse near Albert Hammond Jr.’s Port Jervis home in Upstate New York.” WK

Overall, the critical response to Angles has been “generally favorable.” WK USA Today’s Edna Gundersen says the Strokes “are charging back with their finest, most exciting record since 2001’s elegantly hip” EG debut. “Considering the internal friction and scrapped sessions on Angles’ rocky ride to completion, it’s an assured, neatly executed, energetic return to form, buzzing with bravado, petulance, snapping rhythms and dovetailing guitars. And for all its cool ennui, the band’s sly neo-retro garage rock radiates surprising warmth and romance.” EG

Similar sentiments are echoed by Entertainment Weekly’s Amanda Petrusich, who calls it “accordingly fractured and often inscrutable, but there are returns to form.” WK Rolling Stone’s David Fricke said the record was “worth the wait” WK while it’s also been said that “instead of the rigid purity of Is This It, the new album nods to the more expansive sound of The Velvet Underground’s 1970 record, Loaded.” WK

However, the other perspective is that the tenth anniversary of “the Strokes’ landmark debut Is This It only invites and begs for comparisons.” AP During the making of the album, “bassist Nikolai Fraiture revealed that the album would be ‘a return to the basics,’ suggesting the songs would be of similar style to their first album.” WK “But it’s like the band itself is resigned to acknowledge that reality” AP when singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas “snarks, ‘Everybody’s singing the same song for ten years.’” AP

“The Strokes can’t fudge on…enthusiasm and camaraderie, and that, unfortunately, comes through loud and clear on a disjointed, uneven effort like Angles…The Strokes aren’t having nearly as much fun now as they did ten years earlier, which makes all the difference in the world.” AP

“Much has been made about the arduous, disconnected process involved in creating Angles.” AP First off, the band had to deal with guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.’s “drug abuse and resulting rehab – stemming from his breakup with model and singer Agyness Deyn” WK and leading to him mssing some of the first recording sessions for the album. WK

More significantly, though, was the deliberate move on Casablancas part to remove “himself from the other four Strokes during the recording process, going so far as recording his vocals remotely…and sending them to the band via email. Likewise, most communication between Casablancas and the rest of the band took place via email…Casablancas’ literal distance was actually a deliberate attempt at forcing the other members to take control of the band’s creative process, a task which he had previously dominated.” WK

The result can be that “Casablancas often seems distanced from what the rest of the band is doing, his vocals floating above the layers of instrumentation. Like on the reggae-esque opener Machu Picchu, which finds the Strokes deconstructed, with all the band’s elements separated out, rather than integrated. Metabolism almost feels like two separate bands playing on one track, with Casablancas’ drawn-out drawl out of sync with his bandmates’ stab at soaring, too-loud synth-rock.” AP

“Valensi found the whole experience deeply dissatisfying. ‘I won’t do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful – just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there. I’d show up certain days and do guitar takes by myself, just me and the engineer.’” WK The approach of the recording is echoed in the review from Alexis Petridis of The Guardian: “Plenty of great records have been made in an atmosphere of terrible acrimony…but Angles just sounds like an album made by people who really didn’t want to make an album.” WK The band has already been “promising to do better next time in interviews promoting this album.” AP

“There’s just not enough that’s organic, spontaneous, and tight about Angles, the very qualities that had made the Strokes greater than the sum of their parts. Even the album’s most compelling blasts-from-the-past, Under Cover of DarknessAP (which Pretty Much Amazing calls the group’s “best song to date,” PMA “and Taken for a Fool, are missing that something intangible, revisiting the Strokes’ distinctive neo-garage aesthetic without fully recapturing the same vibe and spirit that made them iconic.” AP

“Even though they made their name by cribbing from the best moves of others, the Strokes lose a little too much of their own sense of identity this time around.” AP “Rather than sticking to a formula that revived their NYC forerunners the Velvet Underground, Television, and the Ramones, the Strokes incorporate some more styles, with the effect of coming off all over the place…On Two Kinds of Happiness, the Strokes reveal the Cars as a touchstone and try their hand at new wave, as Casablancas apes Ric Ocasek’s vocal tics.” AP On “the Thin Lizzy tribute Gratisfication, with Casablancas’ shuffling vocals recalling ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’, and…Hammond…and…Valensi’s guitars beefier than usual.” AP

“Casablancas’ chanting overdubs and robotic lead vocals on the cold and twitchy You’re So Right nod at Radiohead (though he claims the song is influenced by R.E.M.)” PMA as they “attempt at their own ‘Paranoid Android.’” AP However, depending on the reviewer “its skittish synths and Fabrizio Moretti’s anxious drums” AP make the song “stick out like a sore thumb” AP or it showcases the band as one who “don’t merely imitate – they recast and often improve on their inspirations.” PMA

“Even more jarring in its pretentions is the techno-ish Games, on which Casablancas tries to wax philosophical on its chorus of ‘Living in an empty world,’ since depth and social commentary aren’t exactly what you come to the Strokes for…These songs, along with their version of the Velvets’ ‘The Murder Mystery’ on Call Me Back,” AP which Pretty Much Amazing calls “the album’s weakest track,” PMA “are curious bids for artsy-fartsy importance that might mark something like a mid-life crisis in the Strokes’ career.” AP

“But if there’s one sign that the Strokes can get past this rough patch, it’s that Angles isn’t all about instant, um gratisfaction and might just be an effort that has the potential to gain traction over time…‘Gratisfication’, even if it’s not their most inspired offering, might serve as a good example of how the Strokes are trying to make their new arrangement work, recovering a little of their bonhomie on when the group sings in unison.” AP In fact, another take on it is that “Games” and “Gratisfication” are examples of songs the band couldn’t have written ten years ago. PMA

“But it’s the closing track ‘Life Is Simple in the Moonlight’ that most effectively points to what a more mature Strokes might be like, taking their tried-and-true formula and stretching it out in a more gentle, even contemplative way. So when Casablancas utters the album’s last lines, ‘Don’t try to stop us / Get out of the way,’ he does so in a way that’s more about inner resolve than getting the Strokes’ youthful swagger back.” AP

“The final word on Angles really comes on ‘Under Cover of Darkness’, though, when Casablancas sings, ‘I’ll wait for you / Will you wait for me too?’ If the Strokes keep their word that better things are yet to come, Angles could be seen in a different light in due time, the album where they worked through their late-in-coming growing pains and found themselves at a fork in the road, not the end of it.” AP

Angles ultimately succeeds because the Strokes still know how to write a good melody” PMA and, in fact, “the Strokes may be just fine with being the Strokes, but they’re also the best at it.” PMA “With so few decent guitar rock albums being produced nowadays, a great one comes at a premium; when it’s also a Strokes album, it comes with a sigh of relief.” PMA

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

previous album: First Impressions of Earth (2006)

Under Cover of Darkness

Taken for a Fool

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Last updated December 15, 2011.