I’ll just go ahead and say what we all already know: Rock music is on it’s last legs. If you’re the kind of person who considers “rock” a genre that constantly evolves, from it’s earliest inception to the blues-influenced British scene to the awful mess that was hair metal to the indie rock scene of today, you might disagree.
I tend to define “rock” as a formulaic genre that is typically guitar-driven, revolves around riffs, features a guitar/bass/drum (and sometimes keys) lineup and is most often up-tempo. Although some people like to peg the Strokes as more “indie,” there’s no denying that the band is straight up rock. What’s more is the band is one of the last exciting rock groups still standing.
With the genre slowly drowning, The Strokes have released their fourth studio album, Angles, that very well may be their last somewhat exciting record. What the band really needed to do here was bring it the way they did on Is This It and Room on Fire, easily two of last decade’s best rock albums. But bring it they did not. Almost as if they saw the black hole in the distance, ready to devour them, The Strokes swallowed hard, closed their eyes and gave a nervous, uninspired work.
Angles is good only in that it’s The Strokes, and The Strokes are good. The guitar work is stellar and the band plays just as tight as they did back in the day. What’s missing is the oomph, the moxie, the chutzpa. Where is the “What Ever Happened,” the “The Modern Age,” even the “Last Nite”? Where’s the creativity that energized the indie music scene and finally gave us some great rock music in the face of the Lenny Kravitz world in which we were forced to live?
It seems to be six feet under. And if Angles is going to be rock music’s funeral procession, “Under Cover of Darkness” is the eulogy. It’s one of those tracks for which you instantly look up the tab and wish you hadn’t left your electric guitar in your parents’ basement. Its wailing chorus of “I’ll wait for you” is tragic, beautiful and everything we could expect from a great rock song.
I’ll be content if The Strokes never write another great song again. They played their part as the last great rock band, and closing the chapter with a mediocre album is a very fitting middle finger to me and everybody else who doubts rock. They seem to not give a shit if rock is dead. As long as they’re alive and kicking they’ll be there to deliver the goods. Critics and future generations may turn their backs to the genre, but rock music and The Strokes won’t ever die. Not really, anyway.
Buy Angles now on RCA.