Is This It- The Strokes

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 7.5/10

The debut album by The Strokes is often hailed as their finest and one of the best albums of the 2000s. Now, I’m not the biggest Strokes fan, but I think their music is pretty good. I don’t know if this had anything to do with why I thought the album was just okay. The songs are catchy enough and some of the music is awesome, but most of them end up sounding like one another. But the band’s vintage rock sound is at least enough to grab your attention.

It’s easy to understand why so many people love this record. All of the songs are upbeat, catchy, and manage to put you in a good mood, at least the music will if the lyrics don’t. One of the catchiest songs on the record is “Someday.” It has a bright guitar riff sure to lift your spirits along with a smooth, cool bass line to get you moving. The lyrics are great also and will have you singing along in no time. One of my favorite lines from this song is “Alone we stand, but together we fall apart.” It’s a great cynical take on an old saying.

Another great song and the one that stands out the most is “Alone, Together.” What makes this song so great is the music. The riff sort of jumps around and has a darker sound unlike the other songs here. The format of the track is great also. I love the way the beat of drums matches up with the vocals during the chorus. The music keeps up this pace until the bridge when things pick and get kind of wild with the blazing guitar solo. It’s a really great track, probably the best one here.

While there’s not a single bad song here, the problem is that most of them don’t grab your attention. Songs like “Soma” and “ Barely Legal” are catchy and have some great music, but unfortunately they sound pretty similar. And this is the issue with most of the songs on the album. Maybe it’s due to the sound the band was going for, the monotone style of the vocals, or how the guitar sounds pretty much the same in each song. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since most of the songs are good on their own, but for me at least, it makes for an underwhelming album. I love songs like “Alone, Together” because the sound is so different. If there were more songs that switched up their style, the album would fair a lot better in my opinion.

I think one reason this album was so popular when it came out is because of its sound. All of the songs sound like they come from the late 60s/70s rock scene. The DIY, raw, unpolished tone of the album exemplifies this feeling. Their sound seems to mix classic rock n roll, with garage rock, and indie rock; you can really hear this on the intricate guitar solos. When the album came out in 2001, garage rock was just becoming big in mainstream music thanks to the White Stripes. Also, the music world was still permeated with bubble gum pop, so The Strokes were a breath of fresh air, even though they’re playing off of vintage musical styles. Also, it helps to have really catchy songs.

One thing that you cannot deny about The Strokes is that singer Julian Casablancas has a unique voice. He usually sounds like he’s half asleep or really smashed. He may not be the best singer in the music world, but he definitely has one of those instantly recognizable voices. But sometimes his vocals are annoying because they sound muffled, at least on this record, which makes it hard to hear what he’s trying to say. It’s not a big deal and only happens with a few songs, but his voice is interesting to say the least.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. Just about all the songs here are really catchy and have some great music. Really, there isn’t a song that’s not likable. Even though some of start to sound the same after awhile, it’s tolerable. The Strokes may not have made much noise with their last album, but this is the one they’ll be remembered for, even if it’s just for helping bring garage rock to the masses.

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