Two months ago, the Strokes announced the track list for its new album, Angles. Using all of my musical knowledge and psychic prowess, I predicted what the album would sound like track by track. Well, the album is out March 21, and the album the guys made is not the album I predicted. I was wrong, everybody; I am so very sorry.
Angles is a rather tricky one, and the making of it was rocky. It has signature Strokes elements galore -- Julian Casablancas' classic croon, Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr.'s interlocking guitar work, Nikolai Fraiture's understated bass lines, and Fabrizio Moretti's precision drumming that sometimes sounds like a drum machine. Other than that -- I had no clue.
Let me break down the album track by track, revisiting my wild predictions and admiring how I missed the mark.
I said I "expect it to start with just bass and singing while the rest of the music fades in." Well, none of that happened. Instead we get a song that feels a lot like Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride." It's a refreshing bit of tropical new wave. As far as the lyrics, there's no longing for the places he and his lost love used to hang out. I did mention something about a "roast beefery," and he does sing about a girl wearing a "jacket made of meat." Roast beef is a meat, and it's a Lady Gaga reference too.
"Under Cover of Darkness"
I guessed it would "sound like a cross between the Pixies and Chuck Berry." But this one just sounds like the Strokes. With its sped-up "Lust for Life" drumbeat, it's got that "Last Nite" feel.
"Two Kinds of Happiness"
I thought "this song will start with what sounds like a Casio drum machine and Yamaha keyboard melody," and it does have a certain Flock of Seagulls meets Joy Division feel. It's kind of a cool song, but it's also kind of hard to listen to -- as the vocals are buried under the rhythm guitars that are buried under the lead guitar and drums.
"You're So Right"
I wanted this song to blend in with "Two Kinds of Happiness" and have "the band keep playing the same phrase for two minutes." Nothing remotely close to that happened. It starts off with a hard-rocking riff and monotonous vocal line that transitions into some appregiated noodling.
"Taken for a Fool"
I could argue I was pretty close on this one, I said it would be "built around a Motown bass line," and even though it's not, the chorus melody is reminiscent of some of the best Motown girl groups' vocal patterns. It's a really fun pop-rock song, with some classic Strokes action and a little bit of the Cars' new wavery.
None of the classical instruments I predicted appear on this one, unless majestic synth-flute counts as "oboe." It's the Strokes at its space-age best, and it kind of reminds me of this scene in Revenge of the Nerds.
"Call Me Back"
"Call Me Back" is a lot more than "two chords"; there's no drumbeat or bass line. It's a sad, soothing song. The focus of the song is on some jazzy boss-nova-style guitar and Casablancas' lovelorn, desperate voice.
Oof! I admit, my guess that this one would be "the Rolling Stones 'Satisfaction' riff with some Latin percussion thrown in," was totally pun-based. This is an excellent track with lots of Thin Lizzy vocal and guitar references. The chorus sounds straight out of a Broadway show.
Oh man, I was just going wild on this one. No reverse 808 kicks or disco breaks on this jam. This song opens with a snake-charmer riff, and along with Casablanca's vocals, it eventually charters Radiohead OK Computer territory.
"Life Is Simple in the Moonlight"
I was right about the "dull-sounding" on this one. It's kind of long, kind of drags; the solo sounds like it's from the NPR Late Niter Jazz Show.