The 80s are back (again) with the The Strokes’ long-awaited album Angles. The album, which will officially be released March 22, is a combination of original Strokes-like instrumentation, set to modern synth-pop keyboards, and depending on the song brings to mind an 80s sound of bands like The Clash, Talking Heads, (even) Billy Joel, and the current presence of Phoenix, among others.
The first single on the album, “Machu Picchu,” with reggae-inspired beats and vocals reminiscent of Thomas Mars (Phoenix), screams “radio single,” and sends the listener off on, what is expected to be, a wild and exciting ride. Then comes the album’s first single, “Under Cover of Darkness,” which, though ringing similar to Phoenix’s “Lisztomania,” seems to have been released first so fans could remember why they loved The Strokes to begin with. (Hint: the entire Is This It album, which, by the way, came way before Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.)
Angles’ third track, “Two Kinds of Happiness,” sort of takes a turn—a wide turn—bringing to mind the vocals of Tom Petty, with a twist of U2’s, “In God’s Country,” (from the 80s), and an 80s’ new-wave sound evocative of The Cars. Skip down the track list to “Gratisatisfaction,” and you’ll discover a sound reminiscent of Billy Joel’s, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” from his 1980 album Glass House. “Metabolism,” brings out a psychedelic-synth reverberation with eerie keyboard trills and boxed vocals. And the Bossa Nova sound of, “Life is Simple in the Moonlight,” again suggests an 80s-inspired mix of musical genres.
As for some of the album’s reviews, they’re mixed as well. One reviewer at the Chicago Tribune called Angles a, “schizophrenic, transitional album, where the pop pleasures are nearly canceled out by the flops (‘Metabolism,’ ‘Games’) and throwaways (‘Gratisfaction’).” Disagree.
Spin has mostly good things to say about the songs in the album, “When they go for depth here — which they do on a handful of slower, quieter cuts — the route isn’t bitterness, but a kind of pop-philosophical wonderment.” Nicely put.
Then, Entertainment Weekly‘s internally mixed review claims that “Angles reveals a newfound earnestness: For the first time, it actually feels like the guys are trying.” Everyone’s entitled to an opinion.
Regardless of what anyone says, the best advice would be to take a listen for yourself, and see if you can derive any different sounds, or comments, from The Strokes’ latest vision: a wild and crazy mix of musical genres, and genius. Welcome to the (revisited) future of rock!