Is This It? Yes, It Is: The Strokes Are Back

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

New York-based band The Strokes released one of the decade’s most acclaimed albums 10 years ago and failed to live up to it since — until now.

The Strokes virtually defined an infant decade’s emerging sound when they released Is This It in 2001. Songs like “Last Nite” and “Someday” were the template for other melodic, garage rock bands hoping to receive the same level of universal critical praise and commercial success as the Strokes. End-of-the-decade lists revealed people still hold the band’s debut in high regard. Critic-aggregating site acclaimedmusic.net ranked Is This It as the third most acclaimed album of the decade.

That same list accurately depicts the reaction to the group’s next two albums. 2003′s Room on Fire is at No. 345, while First Impressions of Earth, released in 2006, finds itself at a lowly No. 2024. The Twitter account @Discographies, known for its 140-character summaries of artists’ catalogs, summed it up when they tweeted, “1 ‘OMG! The greatest band of all time!!!; 2 ‘It’s not as good as the first…’; 3 ‘Hey, can we listen to the Arctic Monkeys?’”

I don’t know if this kind of response really bothered Julian Casablancas and company or not — I tend to assume “indie” bands don’t worry much about what “the man” has to say about them — but regardless, their fourth album, Angles, seems like it was designed to restore our faith in the “greatest band of all time!!!” and convince us to stop listening to so much Arctic Monkeys.

Angles manages to sound like classic Strokes without seeming like an empty rehashing of their debut. Lead single “Under Cover of Darkness” is bouncy, lively and confident, sure to please old fans and interest new ones. Other songs sound like they’ve rubbed shoulders with other bands, such as the Radiohead-esque “You’re So Right” or the Blondie-inspired “Machu Picchu.” Still, the tracks are unmistakeably theirs.

Producing an album of this caliber is crucial for the ultimate place of the Strokes among rock history’s pantheon. If they would have botched it, their status as the creators of a single amazing album would have been cemented. Instead, they have a second chance. Maybe it’s time for @Discographies to update their tweet.

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