After five years, a new album of passion and intensity

Bailey Bieda and Elie Hess, 10th Grade

After years of what seemed like a complete disappearance, The Strokes recently released their most complex and varied album yet, Angles. We generally liked the album and found it worth the five-year wait, but among critics reviews were mixed.

For us, this collection is a happy surprise — we had expected their usual light and young style, with simple vocals, light drums and easy guitar rifts. Instead, Angles uses heavier guitar and more intense, passionate vocals. Some critics think they tried too hard, but we think the long break gave them something to strive for.  This time it seems, the band has something to say.

A New York based band formed in 1998 by frontman Julian Casablanca, The Strokes has been around since 2001. Angles is almost like a rebirth, because they broke up in 2006 while two members went solo. It contains many experiments, but the majority of songs are funky, with interesting beats, catchy tunes and a wide variety of sounds. Rolling Stone magazine, known for its honesty and enthusiasm, gave the album four out of a five stars and called it the group’s best since 2001.

Angles has an evolved sound to it. One reason may be that the group is no longer trying to please an anonymous general public.  It has its own fans now, and they seem to be writing for themselves. Their single “Under the Cover of Darkness,” released a month ahead of the album, combines fuzzier sounds with a light feeling and great fast-paced rhythm — an instant hit. The upbeat, almost cocky songs “Machu Picchu,” “Taken for  a Fool” and “Gratifisfaction” highlight the connection between guitarist Nick Valensi and drummer Fabrizio Moretti. The Strokes took a risk with “Call Me Back” — the track has no drums, which is quite unusual  but probably ended up being one of the most interesting experiments coming out of the album.  In “Two Kinds of Happiness,” one can barely hear the lyrics Casablanca  is crooning; this lets the listener focus more on happiness of the melody and the interesting stutter of the guitar.

However, the album does lack a little something. Although the beats and melodies are varied, the songs’ lyrics all tell different stories with the same message.  Though each song expresses it differently, most of the songs are about emptiness.

“Metabolism,”  which sounds the most like their previous work, has a bit of a scared feel, almost like the band is spilling out their feelings — a bit unusual for the Strokes who usually keep their cool. A moody punkish vibe is injected into the introduction of “You’re so Right,” but then the sullen mood becomes pleasant.  The lyrics however are empty; Casablancathe bo says the same sentences over and over and the song just becomes repetitive.

Life has a large range of emotions, and there are different messages to spread. Angles has a much more sophisticated edge than The Strokes’ earlier albums, but we look forward to the band’s evolving even further, leaving behind some of its teenage angst.