We move backwards sixteen years and back across the Atlantic to the United States to take a stop at New York City and The Strokes' truly fantastic 2001 debut, Is This It.
The Strokes have been a recent discovery in terms of my musical variety, although the indie rock genre is one I've been in love with for a while now. What drew me to this album is its simplicity and ability to create something brilliant out of essentially nothing. The recording process for Is This It was relatively bare-bones, with none of the songs being recorded on more than eleven audio tracks. This, along with the three microphone drum setup, inspired by the Ramones and the Velvet Underground, results in a rather compressed and 'closed' sound that this record is now famous for.
The title track comes across as Julian Casablancas' lowest and most emotional point on the album, talking of a broken-down relationship and the act of lying to keep it together, presumably to use his ex-girlfriend for the sake of pleasure. Arguably the most famous on the album, Someday takes a tainted look at the past and the idea that people will always be looking back in this cyclical structure of wistfulness, but also playing on the idea of a doomed relationship in the line "See, alone we stand, together we fall apart", which also acts a lovely segue into the next song, Alone Together. New York City Cops is reckless in delivery and jumps around in lyrical structures and the scream at the start acts as a homage to Aerosmith, before jumping into a grunge-esque guitar riff that packs quite the punch. Interestingly enough, this was dropped from the US CD release due to its title that could have been seen to be ridiculing the New York Police Department in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Closing track Take It Or Leave It is both aggressive and punchy, talking about a proposition for a relationship and also portraying Casablancas' feelings about gender stereotypes. He discusses how both men and women should show their true feelings and not hide them behind various veils of generalisations. Barely Legal concerns the story of a girl who has just reached the age of consent and the complications that arise as a result. The musical backing is seemingly inspired by classic Britpop bands such as Oasis and Blur with the drumwork from Fabrizio Moretti exemplifying this perfectly.
Is This It is arguably one of the most pivotal and inspirational rock albums of the 2000s. It acted as a catalyst to the rise in alternative rock bands like the Arctic Monkeys and the Libertines. It's a superb collection of songs with bluntness and attitude and is an album I'd highly recommend.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/30OeHLS
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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