Monday, March 21, 2011

Album Review: The Strokes - Angles

When it comes to The Strokes, really one thing separates their great material from their merely good material: Melody.

You pretty much know you're going to get the same dead on the beat drumming and lyrical/riff-y bass parts. Julian's voice is always going to have pretty much the same new york/brit/euro faux soul style. There aren't going to be any harmonies. Albert Hammond Jr. is going to have some decent chordal solos and comping and Nick Valensi is going to have some pretty good leads.

All of that is here on Angles. What is very uneven is the quality of the melodies, which is why the album is pretty uneven. This is perhaps the band's best album performance wise, ever. Julian's voice is just as good, if not better than ever, and Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi have solidly progressed as guitarists. Two Kinds of Happiness and You're So Right contain, by far, the best guitar work on any Strokes songs and the guitar work is excellent throughout the entire album.

But listen to the lead single, Under Cover of Darkness, and then listen to any of the other songs on the album. The rest fall flat, because Under Cover of Darkness is the only truly great melody on the album.

What made Is This It so great wasn't particularly the sound or the image of the band, and it definitely wasn't the technical skill of the band, but that they had the melodies pouring out of them. That album isn't the best performed album you'll find, but brilliant pop rock melodies carried it.

Angles has a lot of the "well, Julian doesn't really have a good melody to sing, so he's just going to kind of randomly ramble in a slightly interesting way" that is the hallmark of The Strokes more mediocre material.

That's not to say Angles is a terrible album, or even a mediocre album, it's just good, and that's it. The musicianship holds a lot of otherwise boring songs up and keeps you listening. It's a very good "sounding" album, extremely well produced. There are some decent melodies on a few songs, like Taken For a Fool, not a great melody, but okay. Overall though, the album just doesn't captivate, it's merely pleasant and enjoyable. Which isn't so bad after all.


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