1 The Strokes - Angles

The Strokes haven't given us a studio effort since 2006's First Impressions of Earth, which was the album that got me interested in the band. I've since become familiar with the catalog and thought I knew what to expect from them on this one. Nope. Call it Eighties-inspired. Call it future rock. Whatever the heck it is, Angles is weird, wild, and quite entertaining.

As Julian says, Angles will "put your patience to the test." It's quite adventurous all the way through, bringing elements of pop, rock, new wave, and dance together for some rock and roll hybrid. The opening track, "Machu Picchu" is one of the group's finest tracks to date, and the single, "Under Cover of Darkness" proves they still got it. "Two Kinds of Happiness" channels late-Eighties Tom Petty or the Cars before an explosive chorus. Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr. are one of the finest rock guitar duos around, and it never ceases to amaze me how carefully creative and antagonistic they can be to one another. The guitar tones, as well, are perfectly dialed throughout, as they usually are on Strokes records.

"Taken for a Fool" is one of the catchiest songs they've written, and it's quite a mix, especially in headphones. Julian's signature snarl prevents it from crossing the line completely into pop territory. When they bust into the b-section after the first chorus, it is pure magic, three perfect tones.

They really push the Eighties sound on you with "Games," and the chorus swells into thumping cry for help. "Gratisfaction" is a standout track, a little more classic Strokes, very easy and cool with a doozy of a chorus. Julain's lyrics, as usual are very good, and his delivery on this one echoes the older Strokes catalog, where he "barely cares" he's doing a vocal take. The final track, "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight" is just a fantastic closer, another great mix, with some impressive guitar work.

Again, this album is challenging, creative and adventurous. It's refreshing to see a band as established as the Strokes not just give us the same thing over and over. Of course, this polarizes your audience, and some people will cry that they've abandoned their sound or lost their touch. Don't believe the hype. Angles is awesome.

Download: "Machu Picchu" - "Taken for a Fool" - "Gratisfaction"