When critiquing rock bands, I make allowances for certain strengths and weaknesses that are particular to the band in question. Thus in order to be fair I adopt criteria that's specific to a given artist. In that respect, the approach I use for The Strokes tends to be one of benign condescension, with dramatically lower standards than I would bring to a superior rock outfit.
For example, I would fault most bands for playing it too safe or being overly artistically conservative. Such a complaint would seem almost hypocritical if applied to The Strokes however, given that I excoriated First Impressions of Earth
, the band's first attempt to take a risk and leave their comfort zone.
Also, I might ordinarily feel cheated by a 34-minute album in the wake of a five year sabbatical, but its bloated length was one of First Impressions of Earth
's greatest liabilities. Similarly, the brevity of The Strokes' first two albums was one of their chief virtues, making the shortness of this venture most welcome.
holds few surprises. The album is once again a homage to retro guitar/rock and garage bands of yore. At this point 'homage' might be a misnomer though, as such a 'tribute' is likely a mask to conceal The Strokes' creative and artistic inadequacies, a front the band cling to now more than ever, after exposing their weaknesses on First Impressions of Earth
. On that album The Strokes proved that, at least for the moment, they're incapable of progressing beyond their garage/rock roots, which is all the more depressing given that their garage/rock image is manufactured to begin with.
Still, if one accepts that Angles
will be more of the same, it's a fundamentally decent album, albeit one that's inferior to Is This It
and Room on Fire
. It's certainly better than First Impressions of Earth
, but it's debatable whether that improvement stems from superior songwriting or the innate charm of the band's retro style.
by Reviewer: Evan Lublinski
(blogging at Evan Lublinski's Album Reviews