Is This It

The Strokes

RCA, 2001

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/17/2006

I wanted to hate this album, I desperately did. The supposed “saviors of modern rock” that the Strokes are touted to be makes my stomach churn.

Way back when I was a wee lad in the year 2000, the Strokes were “it.” They released a bunch of singles that had the rock 'n roll world champing at the bit. The release of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Is This It was, needless to say, a highly anticipated event.

Now I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and herald this as one of the greatest records of all time, as it is often made out to be (which is ridiculous). What I am going to do is admit that this is actually a solid record. The music is very catchy, even upon first listen, and while he can be dull Julian Casablancas, writes some pretty good lyrics. Some of them are so simple you say to yourself, ‘I could of thought of that;' on “Alone, Together,” Casablancas sings “Life seems unreal, can we go back to your place / Ah you drink too much, let me drink just the same.” You can imagine yourself in the place of Casablancas; you’re a young horny guy at a party and you have to deal with all the stupid nuances of the girl that you’re trying to get.

There really isn’t one bad track on here. It’s all either solid or pretty impressive. Standouts are the aforementioned “Alone, Together,” the indie radio hit “Last Nite,” and “Barely Legal.” What actually makes “Alone, Together” such a standout is the fact that it attempts to break out of a cage of sameness that the Strokes have (hopefully unintentionally, but who knows) climbed into.

This is how we arrive at the pitfalls of this record, which is the indistinguishableness between tracks, also likely the reason that the last two releases from this bunch have been relative flops. It’s like the record is stuck in a time warp, and neither the song structure nor chord progressions can escape. Don’t get me wrong, there is some great playing on this record, even the solos aren’t bad. But by the last song, your like, ‘haven’t I heard this ten times already?’ Albeit a good ten times, but still ten times.

One of the best records I’ve ever heard? Hell no. Worth buying? Sure.

Rating: B-

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© 2006 Brian Birnbaum and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.