It’s tough being seminal. Having kick-started 21st-century guitar music with their classic debut Is This It in 2001, New York’s casually iconic Strokes were harangued for failing to reinvent their garage pop wheel on the follow-ups Room On Fire and First Impressions Of Earth.
Then, after a four-year gap and several side-projects, they received just as much flack when their far more adventurous fourth leaked, presumably for not owning the genres they delved into. Unfair.
Where first single Under Cover Of Darkness and Nick Valensi’s impressively disco-flecked Taken For A Fool – one of several results of the band’s new democratic writing policy – add fresh gloss to their elated guitar blueprint without sacrificing an ounce of their gritty gusto, elsewhere they nimbly assimilate styles by the fistful.
Machu Picchu is wrapped in Specials-esque urban reggae threads, Two Kinds Of Happiness is a Petty/Ocasek 80s chug, Games is all-out electro-pop and the glam jig of Gratisfaction revels in its shameless Thin Lizzy riffs. Call Me Back could pass as a Selling England By The Pound ballad, and Metabolism even finds them having a (not entirely unsuccessful) stab at prog metal, like a bunch of Devil-horning Beaudelairs.
Yes, coming on like The Horrors droning out a krautrock cartoon theme on You’re So Right is a stylistic folly too far, but it’s testament to the fearlessness of Angles and the antagonistic talent still at work within New York’s finest.