The Strokes have been talking down the recording of Angles, and relations between the band members were fractious at best. Singer Julian Casablancas snubbed the rest of the band and recorded the vocals on his own; judging by the volume of his signature mumble, he did so from another state.
Ironically, though, the product of this process is the most cohesive album The Strokes have produced since their debut. It seems a bit of friction was what they needed after the flat First Impressions of Earth, where the band who made a name for themselves by sounding studiedly bored began to sound actually bored.
While this short, tight set (10 songs in a little more than half an hour) is largely a return to the band’s original spirit, musically it’s a qualified success. Things start shakily with the quirky-but-forgettable ‘Machu Picchu’ and take a while to recover. But there’s plenty to get your teeth into. The Strokes have given their jerky, trebly new-wave dynamic a shot of new ideas, which for the most part have been successfully assimilated into their aesthetic. ‘Call Me Back’, for example, is a lazily wispy swoon of a song, which proves that The Strokes sound best when they’re not trying too hard.