The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness”

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Since 2001, Julian Casablancas and The Strokes have epitomized the NYC sound with their brand of garage rock. They seemed to hit their stride early, however—2001′s debut Is This It was American enough to do whatever the hell it wanted to do, and British enough do it well. In fact, the album influenced British rock bands from The Arctic Monkeys to The Libertines to Franz Ferdinand. After that, however, The Strokes’ increased commercial success coincided with increased failure in critics’ and fans’ eyes.

But it’s been five years since the band’s third release, 2006′s First Impressions of Earth, and five years is evidently enough time to regain a lost sound. If first single “Under Cover of Darkness” is a fair representation, The Strokes’ upcoming March 18 release Angles will draw significantly less comparisons to The Bravery and significantly more to the band’s first release. The track boasts all the ingredients for a great rock song: an understated yet penetrating guitar riff; a ridiculously catchy chorus, avoiding multi-tracking in favor of Casablancas’ nasally and slightly undermixed vocals; and vague lyrics that bid “so long, my adversary and friend” to an unknown recipient.

The song’s most interesting moment comes during the second verse, when Casablancas wails “Everybody’s been singing the same song for ten years.” The listener is transported back to 2001, when The Strokes were the hottest rock band in the country, a country which came under attack in September. Thus, the lyric might refer to a band attempting to resurrect their sound from a decade ago so that listeners can replace Is This It with Angles on their iPod shuffles. Or perhaps, in conjunction with other lines about the army, it is supposed to invoke a country stuck on 9/11 autopilot.

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