Review ·

Somewhere, a PR person is very mad at Julian Casablancas. There are many things a frontman should probably not do before his band's long-awaited fourth album is released, and "express serious doubts as to its quality" is pretty high up on that list. Especially when it turns out that those doubts make total sense.


Most of Angles finds The Strokes trying as hard as possible not to sound like The Strokes. This is done, in part, by recycling the least palatable parts of their last LP, and interpolating them with weird, near-atonal choruses. "You're So Right" sounds like a weaker "Juicebox" until its anti-chorus, which drones on like Sci-Fi Channel background music. "Call Me Back" sees Casablancas donning the tattered balladeer outfit he first tried on First Impressions of Earth's "Ask Me Anything"; its weird interlude comes in the form of what sounds like cultish chanting. The song is actually kind of affecting, the only problems being that 1) there are literally one thousand bands making nostalgic synth-pop right now, with 20% of them doing it better than Casablancas ever could, and 2) we don't look to Casablancas to make us feel warm and cuddly, we look to Casablancas to make us feel cool and untouchable.


The album has the feeling of, say, a latter-day U2 show: yes, the audience will indulge your new stuff, but you know they're just waiting to hear "Sunday Bloody Sunday." "Under Cover of Darkness" is exactly what every Strokes fan wants to hear, having long ago given up on the prospect artistic maturity; its guitar line proves, at the very least, that Nick Valensi has been putting his half-decade as the only Stroke without a side-project to good use. When it was released as this album's first single, it looked like the debate around this album would be "nice, The Strokes are back to doing the Strokes!" vs. "The Strokes, like any band, need to change their sound." That would have been preferable.


There are a couple of other moments like "Under Cover of Darkness," though, where that classic Casablancas charm is allowed to shine through and that distant slogan of "this band will save rock and roll" begins to sound at least slightly less absurd. "Gratisfaction" is as pleasingly ridiculously as its title, its Thin Lizzy-isms made only slightly less enjoyable by the fact that Free Energy was doing it better last year. "Taken For a Fool" has the album's best tossed off Casablancanism ("Monday/Tuesday is my weekend") and a chorus that brings to mind that three year period where Casablancas couldn't have written a bad chorus if he tried.


That things don't sound quite so effortless anymore might have something to do with the way the album was recorded: this time around, every Stroke had a say, and Casablancas--who in the past has written all the songs himself--contributed his vocals from afar. The band seemed fractured and confused in the months leading up to this release, but back then there was the prospect that all that tension had led to something brilliant. Instead, it's led to something that sounds fractured, tense, and confused--when it's not sounding like The Strokes, which is all anybody really wanted anyway.






  • Machu Picchu
  • Under Cover of Darkness
  • Two Kinds of Happiness
  • You're So Right
  • Taken For A Fool
  • Games
  • Call Me Back
  • Gratisfaction
  • Metabolism
  • Life Is Simple In The Moonlight

There was a time when the news of a new Strokes album being imminent would send shockwaves through the Internet. That time was 2003. Since then, there was 2006's First Impressions of Earth, an album that found the usually confident Strokes losing their sound to Cars-mannerisms, and then a glut of solid (Fab Moretti's Little Joy), weak (Julian Casablancas' Phrazes for the Young and Albert Hammond Jr.'s solo albums) and plain awful (Nikolai Fraiture's Nickel Eye) solo projects, alleged trips to rehab (Hammond), complaints about band harmony (Casablancas) and effusive words delivered in breathless reports in British mags (Fraiture's often optimistic reports to NME). Only Nick Valensi remained unscathed.  


But the Fab Five from NYC have pulled it back together for Angles, their fourth LP in 10 years. It's reportedly the return to form that is always promised when bands stink for an album (or three), but the world has changed since the Strokes first made the downtown cool they co-opted from the 1970s CBGB set mainstream. We're about to find out if all those bands diluting the Strokes brand (the solo projects and every rock band to put out an album on a British major label between 2002 and 2007) has changed anything. We'll know on March 22. 

Adebisi Shank - This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High

Funny thing is if Passion Pit released Phrazes of the Young everyone would be loving it. Its too cliche to hate on the Strokes


Phrazes of the Young...weak? Try again. "Glass" is easily top 5 Strokes/solo projects' songs ever. You should think about reading lyrics sometime, just a thought.


It's called Phrazes for the Young! And it wasn't "weak"


fixed to Phrazes for the Young

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

I'd like to address the main unspoken point of this article. Are they even relevant anymore? Heck yes. As long as their fans exist, they matter very much in pop culture. The Strokes set off a wave of reactions in the music world, as we garishly heard/witnessed their sound emulated across the globe. March 22 marks the day the Fab Five get to lay down the law again. I may be biased, but I won't knock down a band that's brought a lot of great in music. (Also, ethrothed said it, "Glass" is phenomenal, if you actually take a moment to listen.)


There was a time when the news of a new Strokes album being imminent would send shockwaves through the Internet. That time was 2003.

But the Fab Five from NYC have pulled it back together for Angles, their fourth LP in 10 years. We're about to find out if all those bands diluting the Strokes brand has changed anything. We'll know on March 22.

Horrendously insightful 'article' -
can't wait for "Angles"

Waldo Barberino Binks

Phrazes for the Young is not weak. it's powerful!
you typical cornball music critic. i guarentee whoever wrote this is a straight up buster!!!!!!


Wow!!! A new Strokes record!!! I can’t wait to get the album on my hands!!! Well: it’s probabbly another band, if it’s real that the number of composers it’s 5 and not only Julian. It’s good to hear this: mutation.

I hope get charts too! I’m the Jarvis and Saskia Cocker nephiew. You can hear me at Blur’s Dave Rowntree loves my songs.

Best wishes!!

Patricio Martinotti

the album cover art's up now!

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

HA! Phrazes for the young weak? I am probably in the minority but I think that album is better than the previous 2 strokes albums. I think undercover of darkness is the best strokes song since modern age, LOVE IT! looking forward to this album, if its half as good as Phrases I will be happy.

mellisa ethridge

this album has more say for all the members of the strokes. cant wait for it to come out!!!!! fukng A !!!! whatever u wanna say , say. the strokes still make awesome music. uhuh.

Puvinder Terumalay

Phrazes for the Young "weak"? I had to stop there because this person has no idea what he is talking about. That album great and unlike anything released that year. Much better than anything put out by other band members and superior to The last Strokes album. The new album sounds different from the others because its 2011. If you want This Is It, then listen to this is it.


Find us on Facebook

Latest Comments