Making new Strokes album "awful"; reviews to rescue

Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:50pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi called making the band's new album "Angles" "just awful," but despite a fractious recording process most critics seem pleased the New York rockers are finally back.

The record has been five years in the making, an absence which has heightened anticipation in the music press and heaped pressure on a band still living in the shadow of its acclaimed debut album, 2001's "Is This It."

But the U.S. band appears to have lost none of its fans. The Strokes were given a rapturous welcome by an estimated 20,000 audience at a free concert at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Thursday, when they also previewed a couple of tracks from the new album.

"Is This It" was followed by "Room On Fire" (2003) and "First Impressions of Earth" (2006), after which four of the five group members went on to pursue other musical ventures including solo albums and another band.

The quintet reconvened in early 2009, began recording new material with a producer, but then scrapped the bulk of that work when they decided to make the record on their own.

That, combined with a new creative approach meaning all members of the band contributed to writing the tracks, significantly slowed the process, as did lead singer Julian Casablancas' decision to record his vocals remotely.

"When I'm there, people might wait for me to say something," he was quoted as saying on music website "I think it took me being a little mute to force the initiative," added Casablancas, traditionally the band's chief songwriter.

For Valensi, the process was a painful one.   Continued...