The year is 2001 and in enter NYC rock revival ruffians, The Strokes. With a gust of well-deserved buzz at their backs, it would have shocked anyone for lead singer, Julian Casablancas and his band of equally scruffy friends to fail. The band’s first set of released music, an EP titled The Modern Age, featured “Last Nite”, “Barely Legal” and “The Modern Age”. If you’re at all a Strokes fan, you know these are staple songs to the bands catalog. The fact that they found their stride on their first release is great. The fact that they came through even stronger with the album that followed, Is This It, is baffling.
They are by no means groundbreaking. They make rock music rooted in styles found in the early to mid-’70s, reminiscent of The Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop, but they do it brilliantly and with new found energy. More importantly, they snapped the US out of its love for heavy rock music (Linkin Park, Creed, Incubus…) and ushered in a new era filled with bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and Phoenix with the best combination of half-buried vocals, staccato guitars and carefree rock. That’s what Is This It did.
To boot, Julian Casablancas established himself as a member of a short list of people I would call masters of melody. If you haven’t enjoyed this album from start to finish before, do it now. Thank you.