The Strokes, "Under Cover of Darkness"

Within two seconds of the Strokes' new single, "Under Cover of Darkness," the five years that preceded it-a period of side projects, inactivity and simmering frustration since their last full-length, 2006's "First Impressions of Earth"-seem to immediately evaporate. The first snippet of the act's fourth album, "Angles," is a reassurance that the New York group is still capable of creating the tightly wound garage rock of its debut, "Is This It." Julian Casablancas' vocals are both messy and fresh; he stumbles into lines like "I've been all around this town/Everybody singing the same song for 10 years" with a newfound vigor, as if he's singing with a chip on his shoulder. The rest of the band is all game, and Albert Hammond Jr. is given a sizable spotlight for a speaker-blowing solo. "Under Cover of Darkness" is the rare lead single that returns a band to its revered sound and builds anticipation for what it could do with it on its new album.

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