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The Strokes album that the band called "awful"


When The Strokes arrived at the turn of the century on a mission to keep rock ‘n’ roll alive, Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti were rightly hailed as saviours of a faltering genre. However, while they were once the epitome of New York cool, they couldn’t stay fashionable forever.

During their first decade together, The Strokes couldn’t put a foot wrong and were at the helm of the garage rock renaissance that laid the foundations for the 2000s. Without their debut album, and the glorious follow-up Room On Fire, there would have been no guitar music revolution, and Arctic Monkeys are one of many bands that wouldn’t exist today.

Following their slightly underwhelming third album, First Impressions Of Earth, The Strokes decided to try solo endeavours and enjoyed a five-year hiatus before returning in 2011 with Angles.

During that time, the public’s tastes had changed, and the Strokes were no longer at the forefront of popular culture. The band needed their comeback to be a statement of intent, but, instead, the recording process was riddled with issues that would have derailed any band.

Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. was battling addiction when they first began work on the album in 2009. He later admitted he was spending $2,000 a week on heroin, cocaine, and ketamine.

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“It was just a mess,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013 after getting clean. “I really don’t look back on any of it as romantic in any way. It hurt my relationships with people. It took you to a place where it helped you focus or it helped give you something, it then took all that away as well. You couldn’t even play music.”

Before the release of the album, bassist Nick Valensi opened up on the hellish recording experience, which he described as “awful”. He told Pitchfork: “I won’t do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful – just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there.”

Valensi continued: “75 per cent of this album felt like it was done together and the rest of it was left hanging, like some of us were picking up the scraps and trying to finish a puzzle together.”

It was the first album by The Strokes in which Casablancas had alleviated control and shared responsibilities with his bandmates. However, it was a decision he later regretted. In the same interview, the singer added: “There’s a bunch of stuff [on the record] I wouldn’t have done.”

Despite their damning words about their creation, Angles is far from an “awful” record, even if it’s comparatively weak by The Strokes’ sky-high standards. There are still moments of brilliance scattered across its ten tracks, but their traumatic time making the album clouded them from appreciating it.

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