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The Strokes – Is This It? (2001)

March 23, 2012

[Album 30/1001]

As this album reminds me of undergrad, I’ll go with a staple of my post-secondary education to review Is This It? – The S.W.O.T. analysis.

There’s a lot to like.  The songs are catchy and there’s a refreshing ‘live off the floor’ feel.  The Modern Age is the best of the bunch, almost a song fragment, ending abruptly after the second chorus.

The same complaint adults often have about the music their kids play in garage bands: “Loud noise.”  The vocal distortion can be distracting and with the odd exception (such as the great bassline on the title track), musically it’s not all that interesting.  On the big hit Last Nite, surely the rhythm guitarist grew tired of playing those repeated ‘C’ quarter notes! 

The timing was right as The Strokes were a big part of the early 2000’s zeitgeist shift.  The age of Limp Bizkit/Korn-led nü-metal had peaked and the oncoming wave of  ‘The’ bands (Strokes, Hives, Vines, White Stripes…) was emerging.  The Strokes can also thank Shia Lebouf’s wardrobe designer from the 2007 film Transformers.   It rarely hurts to have your logo prominently displayed in a movie that earns hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.

The biggest threat to their legacy would be for The Strokes to be remembered as just another one of those early 21st Century ‘The’ bands. 

Comparing Is This It? to its contemporaries, track-for-track it’s not quite as strong as The Vines’ Highly Evolved or Hot Hot Heat’s Make Up the Breakdown.  Regardless, it’s still a decent listen with good energy, noteworthy for its positive impact on the direction of music.

From → 2000s

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