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Experimental Strokes album yields iffy result

For a band that has come to be known for curves (see the album cover for the 2001 album, “Is This It”), The Strokes’ new album, “Angles,” suggests a new approach based on the 90-degree theme of its album art alone.

The band takes some different approaches, looking to popular, more electronic-based alternative bands like MGMT for inspiration on its new tracks. Songs like “You’re So Right” feature electronic percussion replacing drummer Fabrizio Moretti, and although tracks like “Machu Picchu” feature heavy use of keyboards, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. still gets his fair share of solos.

The band’s newfound interest in electronic implements isn’t to blame for the album’s woes, however. There were reportedly behind the scenes issues among the band during the recording process, and it shows in the results.

Vocalist Julian Casablancas refused to be present with the rest of the band during recording, and therefore sent his contribution to the rest of the band via e-mail. The result is a sense of disconnect for many of the tracks. On “Call Me Back,” Casablancas’ voice just doesn’t sync up with the accompanying guitars, and the confusing lyrics don’t help the problem.

When the band is on its game, it’s successful in the manner that The Strokes excel at: creating songs with catchy rock ‘n’ roll choruses. First-single “Taken For A Fool” is great and “Under Cover of Darkness” mirrors the band’s previous hit “Reptilia” in its buildup from easygoing verses into rousing refrains.

The group doesn’t lose any points for experimenting with new approaches; it might have worked just fine if the band members were on the same wavelength. Hopefully for the sake of alternative rock fans, the band’s upcoming tour dates will get them back in sync and ready to put out a better effort in less than the five years it took to make “Angles.”


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