When a band releases three well-received albums in a span of only six years, one has to wonder where they’ll go next.
With anticipation through the roof, The Strokes took a much needed break in 2006 after the release of their third album, “First Impressions of Earth.” Now, a few solo albums and plenty of vacation time later, the Strokes are back with the release of “Angles,” their first new album in over five years.
However, things aren’t the same. The writing and recording process has changed dramatically. The first three albums were done with most of the creative input coming from front man Julian Casablancas. This time, Casablancas offered little input during the recording process, giving the rest of the band the chance to be the creative minds behind “Angles.” Whether this was a good change for the group is up for debate — some of the members have spoken distastefully of the new process. However, these changes certainly led to the most experimental Strokes album to date.
Opening track and “Angles” standout “Machu Pichhu,” consists of a tropical, reggae-inspired melody backing Casablancas’ higher-than usual vocal delivery: “I’m putting your patience to the test/I’m putting your body on the line, for less.” While The Strokes initially gained popularity for their post-punk homage to Television’s breakthrough “Marquee Moon,” “Machu Pichhu” draws more from the New Wave commercial sheen of Duran Duran’s “Rio” with admirable results.
The ’60s British rock salute “Gratisfaction,” contains the guitar style and ecstatic vocal delivery reminiscent of “Revolver” era Beatles, perhaps best represented with the chorus: “You’re never gonna get my love/We can only blame the sun/You get tired when the days are too long/You get lonely when the days are gone.” The Strokes have always had a penchant for pop music, but have never delivered as unabashedly as with “Gratisfaction.”
It’s a hard decision to make for any band: stick to a solid formula that has worked previously or change up the style and take a chance that your final product may not please long time fans. While the Strokes themselves may not be sure if they made the right call, they managed to find a middle ground and create another great addition to their discography.