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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
With The Strokes not so much as exploding as tentatively tiptoeing back onto the music scene with their 4-track EP entitled Future Present Past, the nostalgia-drenched track Threat of Joy calls to mind the energy of, aptly, the Strokes’ past with everything from the rhythmic drums, the simple-but-catchy melody line and the Lou Reed-inspired adlibs. Thus, as a devout Strokes fan (‘Stroker’ surely is a too disconcerting title to proudly associate myself with – take heed, Beliebers), I feel compelled to return to my adolescent soundtrack – the Strokes’ debut LP, Is This It.
Unlike The Strokes you see today, sparkling in their bejewelled jackets and jeans, their infancy saw them clad in the transgressive double-denim, coupled with Converse trainers and the smoke of their cigarettes saturating the venue of their live shows (something which today would alight the cold heart of Nigel Farage). The gravity of their fame was born out of their first EP, The Modern Age, which featured other Is This It tracks Last Nite and Barely Legal. What then ensued, and justifiably so, was a zealous bidding war that the indie label Rough Trade came out on top in.
The rebellious attitude of The Strokes was not just evident in their attire, but also their live shows. Julian Casablancas, the frontman and chief composer at the time of recording Is This It, would often perform inebriated; his eyes fixed on the audience but somewhat inverted and vacant, nonsensical slurs floating intermittingly between songs and a bottle of beer always in hand. Such intoxication would often culminate in onstage chaos; you’d need only search for one of their shows on the American late night programme, Letterman, to see Casablancas stumbling over his own microphone cable or throwing his stand into the audience.
This energy is reciprocated within their music. Whilst the album may start with a tender and melancholic lament in its self-titled track, the rest is abrasive, fast-tempo, and most of all, catchy. The second track, The Modern Age, follows a simple repetition of oscillating between two chords as a backdrop for Casablancas’ signature drunken croon that develops into a hoarse roar in the second verse. Indeed, the balance between the smooth crooning and melodic anger in his voice is thematic in the entire album, especially in tracks such as Alone, Together, Soma and New York City Cops, something that has appeared to have been lost in the band’s most recent recordings.
The lyrical content varies from that of internal conflict of falling for a young girl (“I wanna steal your innocence/To me my life it don’t make sense”) in Barely Legal, to that of drowning in nostalgia (“In many ways they’ll miss the good old days”) in Someday, a track with a now-famous riff that has become an anthem for the indie kids of our generation. The album closes with its most aggressive track, Take It Or Leave It, with Albert Hammond Jr. strumming his chords at a million miles an hour and Casablancas near-screaming its brilliant chorus that induces adrenaline into to the coldest of veins.
Is This It is a feat of indie-rock perfection that laid the foundations for many of the most famous bands today – just ask Alex Turner who his favourite band is.
Image Credits: skyethelimit.wordpress.com