Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Underwhelming Return of The Strokes

Clearly I missed the boat on THE STROKES. People have been writing about them for the past ten years like they are set to be the next big rock band. I own "Is This It" and found it mildly entertaining, but since then I have lost interest in them as both a band and the future of rock. Prior to digesting their latest record, I had to go back and refresh my memory on their "hits" to get a jumping off point for comparing their newest work, "Angles". This is where I came to the conclusion that I missed on their "importance". Like THE KILLERS, The Strokes travel in taking 80's sounds and repackaging them for a modern audience a bit too lazy to find the originals on their own.

So what to make of their new record? Like there previous three, it has moments of pop achievement. "Under Cover of Darkness" is their signature sound as a blueprint for their catalogue. Ragged guitars, distorted and detached vocals and a jumpy drum beat make for a nice song for the radio. "Two Kinds of Happiness" sounds like it stepped out of MTV circa 1988. Outside of that this is a throwaway album. The synth lines are regurgitated OMD and HAIRCUT 100. The singing is still more of a monotone drone slightly slurred to give the impression that Julian Cassavetes doesn't give a damn. The whole thing is lackluster.

Now I try to avoid thrashing a record. I would be better served celebrating great music than tearing down mediocre stuff, but if the major media is going to posit these guys as successors to the arena rock thrown, I must take issue. The Strokes are what used to be for the record industry. They are a band that has made a carefully crafted image of themselves and sold their greatness before actually achieving it. In this brave new world of bands rising up through alternative promotional means, The Strokes cling to the old model. Here's hoping this is their death knell and we can move on to better things.

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