Monday, 21 March 2011

Listen Up! No. 98: The Strokes - Gratisfaction

The Strokes' new album, Angles, has been given variously short shrift - "tired", "lazy", "lacking ideas" - by critics who seem at least partly pre-disposed to twist the knife. Sure, the band haven't helped themselves with a series of wretched interviews veering from disinterested to repulsed. And sure, it's no masterpiece. But then neither was Is This It?, and 'lacking ideas' - beyond the metronomic garage-rock insouciance which drives their entire debut - never bothered anyone then.

Of course, when 'ideas' means Bahamas business-trip disco-reggae ('Machu Picchu') we could do without them. What The Strokes have always been best at is recognising the heart-in-mouth vibrancy of a moment in musical history, and plonking it squarely in the 21st century, often with finer hooks to boot. Aside from the twitching rapture of lead single 'Under Cover of Darkness', this trick can be heard in earnest on 'Gratisfaction', which marries chugging glam and twiddly power-pop with a wink and a smile. But probably not with a tongue in the cheek. It's a bit like the musical equivalent of going to an Alex Chilton memorial party at Tom Petty's mansion with The New York Dolls in tow. That said: I'm still undecided as to whether the house band is T-Rex or Status Quo. And Julian Casablancas is probably serving the drinks.

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