It’s been five years — a pop eon! — and four solo projects since the Strokes released their third album, the wonky and stilted First Impressions of Earth. Once the artfully rumpled kings of downtown rock, the Strokes were marred by personal discord. For a while, they seemed like a broken band (and in fact, they didn’t record their latest album in one another’s physical presence).
Angles is accordingly fractured and often inscrutable, but there are returns to form, especially ”Under Cover of Darkness,” a vintage party anthem for the Lower East Side set. The group has never shied away from memorable hooks, and Angles owes significantly more to the Cars than the Velvet Underground: Here, Albert Hammond Jr.’s twitchy guitar work is offset by power-pop melodies that can border on goofy. Part of the Strokes’ allure is their perceived disaffection; they’re infinitely cooler than us, and — cue bored eye roll — deeply ambivalent about it. But Angles reveals a newfound earnestness: For the first time, it actually feels like the guys are trying. B?