I don't get the poor reputation that Angles has. I know the recording sessions were strained and pretty much done individually and phoned in (I remember an excruciating interview with Casablancas in Q magazine that made me think, mate, just jack it in if you hate it that much) the production is thin, Hammond was on gear and the album art is awful, but the songs on Angles have aged really well and are the closest to the classic Strokes vibe than anything they've done since. It's The Strokes, but with a bit of an 80s sheen which works really well with the scuzziness of Julian's vocals.
But I totally agree with everything else you said. The Strokes are simple on the surface and looking at them you make your assumptions about what they're going to sound like, but beneath that they are a deeply complex and intricate band with layers of detail and flourishes that are still revealing themselves years later. Listening to Is This It now still sounds vital and fresh, it's timeless and not stuck in the 90s like everything else that came along behind them.
Live, they are phenomenal and have this incredible ability to sound tight but completely falling apart and loose at the same time. They are all on top of their game as musicians but not in a chin-strokey, noodly way, they are just incredibly tasteful and restrained players. My favourite ever live recording by anyone is a soundboard of their gig at Alexandra Palace on the Room On Fire tour, I will upload it if you don't have it. It's a fucking monstrous recording and makes me really tired of this old rhetoric that The Who's Live At Leeds is the best live album ever YAWN.
Have you read Meet Me In The Bathroom? I have it but am still getting through Peter Hook's book before I dip into another rock book.
But yeah, really looking forward to the new Strokes album and hopefully seeing them live again. I saw Casablancas live at the Kentish Town Forum a few years ago when he did his Phrazes album, good but just not the same as seeing the Strokes.