The Strokes Comeback
Eva Hall discusses The Strokes new album ‘Angles’…
The Strokes are to music what Barack Obama is to American politics; knights in shining armour with unattainable expectations. Unlike Obama, The Strokes have never tried to meet these high expectations, instead they chose to churn out the music they wanted and did it on their own time. It is partly this reason that fans have had to endure five long years without a Strokes album; and while they took to Twitter to plead for a new record, they never once criticised the band’s decision not to do so. Unlike Obama, the Strokes got away with doing nothing for four more years. Unlike Obama, The Strokes didn’t care.
Much like the bad-boy boyfriend teenage girls yearn for even when they play hard-to-get, The Strokes’ cool-character only soared when they didn’t give fans what they wanted. The release of their single ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ in February 2011 gave fresh hope that The Strokes’ comeback would be every bit the stroke of genius their debut ‘Is This It’ was. Relentlessly attempting to shirk the eminence of this album, ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ sprouts lines such as ‘everybody’s being singing the same song for 10 years’, followed by a microphone throw in homage to the ‘Last Nite’ video. Such attempts only reminded fans of the way it was, and reinstated the belief that this band would turn the charts upside down and shock others in to producing credible records again. Cue fourth album ‘Angles’ in March of this year, and 90,000 copies were swept up in the first week of sale.
‘Angles’ received fair reviews. It wasn’t so much the “classic sound” of The Strokes that bassist Nikolai Fraiture told fans to expect, but rather a classic sound of Julian Casablancas’s solo effort ‘Phrazes for the Young’. Casablancas has never hidden the fact he prefers to mix 1980s synth with futuristic sounds over the sound of guitar thrashing and drum-fuelled dynamism featured on the band’s first album. The infighting talked about in the run up to the aptly named ‘Angles’ is evident – the album sounding like five people coming at it from five completely different musical viewpoints.
Yet no review has deemed the album bad. In fact, each one ends with the anticipation of another album. This is partly due to the fact the album is more thriller than filler, with notable stand outs such as synth-driven, new wave influenced ‘Games’; unsurprisingly indicated as Casablancas’s favourite track, and ‘Taken for a Fool’; most arguably the most familiar throwback to previous Strokes’ material.
Hardcore fans will follow the band whichever path they choose, but the noticeable features of The Strokes are that they’re not like everyone else. Thrust in to fame within minutes of their first single release, this band has been credited with upturning the music charts inside out and back around again. Every indie band of the last five years has mentioned them as influences, and they are recognised with making Converse and ripped jeans cool again without accepting a single endorsement dollar.
Fans of the early Strokes will forever adore them for giving them the soundtrack to their youth while young fans just discovering The Strokes will jump on the ‘not as good as they used to be bandwagon’. But The Strokes still remain in the music industry, social status intact. Before Kings of Leon became the Princes of skinny jeans, The Strokes were the Kings. Before Arctic Monkeys brought nonchalant lyrics to the masses, The Strokes effortlessly sang to us about one night stands and dismissing authority. Before Obama chanted ‘Yes we can’, the Strokes just could.