Everyone wants The Strokes to succeed so badly, but at some point we are going to have to realize that the band isn’t what they once were, and that the past is in the past. The band’s overpowering media and dynamic personalities have both worked to suffocate the genius that was once there. The Strokes were simply a product of the time, a time when rock and roll needed saving, and they were the messiah, clad in leather jackets and skinny jeans. Is This It featured their own fuzzy, honest, garage, post-punk sound that repulsed just as much as it intrigued critics. Fast forward 10 years, and now these 30-somethings are suffering from the hangover of success that has plagued many bands in the long history of rock music. But this is The Stokes, and they aren’t just any other band. These are the saviors of New York rock, genius 19-year-olds whose future was as bright as any. It seems like something has been lost in The Stokes new album Angles.
The irony about The Strokes is that they recognize that they are doing the whole rock star drinking and drugs thing, but this lifestyle is accompanied by the utterly striking indifference that their band has always displayed. They possess incredible ingenuity and they have something to give the public, but they are way too caught up in themselves, as seen in the countless solo projects that the bandmates took part in during their five-year hiatus. In many ways, they are simply a product of their generation. In an interview with Spin Magazine, guitarist Nick Valensi stated it best: “I don’t know what it is about these lazy New York bands – we’re all busy getting drunk in high-end f**king lounges and eating fancy f**king food. We did absolutely f**k-all for five years … As soon as we got back together, people wanted to pay us more money than we’d ever seen. Jesus, if that’s the lesson….”
So who’s to blame, the system or the band? I personally would take the money and run, but that’s just me.
On to the actual music, “You’re So Right” sounds like Radiohead’s “Insert Song-Title Here,” simply sped up in an almost mocking fashion. “Two Kinds of Happiness” seems to be some messed up ode to Huey Lewis and the News or The Cars. In a similar fashion, “Games” conjures up ’80s pop at its worst or finest, depending on how you look at it. What makes this album so disconcerting is that there are many good songs, but in comparison to the band’s illustrious past it just seems dull, unorganized and completely uninspired. Some of the songs on Angles are so instantly catchy. In “Machu Picchu” and “Under Cover of Darkness,” you almost forget, for a second, what “Last Nite” sounded like and then, in comparison, Angles seems trivial. While this may seem like a plea rather than a review, I, like many others, hope that this is not their last album; they owe it to themselves.