The Strokes – Angles
Having considerably upped their game on previous album First Impressions of Earth, at least in terms of diversifying their sound, it’s disappointing to see The Strokes have reverted back to their “safe place” of slightly twee post-punk. Machu Picchu kicks off the long-gestating Angles in unconvincing style, its glossy sound mirroring fellow New Yorkers Blondie's transition to gradually sweeter production.
Concurrently it transpires that Angles is a respectable, if disappointingly toothless record, especially given the promise of its predecessor. There are some great songs, including the infectious Gratisfaction and the admittedly slick-as-hell Games but, other than playing up their synthetic elements with mixed results, the band don't really seem to be stretching themselves and the expensive sound robs them of the edginess that helped thrust Is This It? into the spotlight.
Though Angles does sparkle occasionally with slices of apparently effortless pop suss, there are numerous songs clearly plucked from the mental bin marked “filler” – perhaps a symptom of their new committee-written approach to songcraft. Exemplary of this trap, You're So Right is an unsuccessful deviation from their usual formula and also wins this month's prize for least convincing lyric when Julian Casablancas repeatedly declares he's “done with the office”. If by that he means he's fed up shopping online for yachts, then our hearts simply bleed for him. [Chris Cusack]