Is This It
In spite of all the hype, the answer to this question is yes. This is it. The Strokes have delivered one of the best albums of the year, a swaggering, searing album of rock that owes as much to The Velvet Underground as they do to the New York punk scene of the late seventies. And above all else, this is a New York album. The essence of the city flows and courses in the veins of this band and lingers on each note that cascades out of the speakers. Hope and earnestness coupled with disgust and despair are forever present in the back of these songs. And isn’t that what being young is all about? Is it a sense of the pure potentiality of youth and the risk that we might waste it?
Listening to this album, it reminds me of just how much fun music can be and how devoid popular entertainment has been of bands that can capture the sheer passion of youth. The raw exuberance and exhilaration that is created by the interaction of the slashing guitars of Al Hammond and Nick Valensi and rhythm section that remains in focus. Yet lead singer Julian Casablancas remains the centerpiece, with a voice that varies between sheer indifference and hope. Composed of several songs previously available on EPs (“The Modern Age,” “Barely Legal,” “Alone Together”), as well as tracks that have been seasoned in live performances, the album offers a handful of new tracks. Between the old and new tracks, The Strokes demonstrate that they possess the stuff needed to stretch beyond the influences readily apparent on their sleeves. In fact, the previously mentioned “The Modern Age” has been a frequently listened to track for several months before the release of this album. It is a dazzling display of Velvets–inspired mayhem that borders on the epic. This is not a risk, if you are willing to be impressed, purchase Is This It and be ready to be impressed.
RCA Records, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036-4098; http://www.thestrokes.com