Album Review: The Strokes – Is This It?
Is This It is the debut album by The Strokes. The New York five-piece consists of Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti. Is This It articulates vocalist Julian Casablanca’s observation of New York City life and the relationships formed within it. Eleven years after the release of Is This It, the album still retains the status of being a modern classic.
Is This It begins with its self-titled track. The simple drum beat and melodic bass-line accompanied by Casablanca’s haunting vocals is a great start to the album. The Modern Age is a rant about the oddness of modern life. It begins with a staccato guitar riff which is accompanied by a complementary drum beat. In The Modern Age there is a technical guitar solo by lead guitarist Nick Valensi which goes to show that as musicians releasing their first album, it set a new and rather eye-opening experience for the listener. The classic Someday has a wonderful arrangement consisting of rockabilly elements infused with interlocking guitar lines. Bassist Nikolai Fraiture’s bassline is a prominent feature that drives the song beautifully.
“Last nite she said “Oh, baby, I feel so down. Oh it turns me off, When I feel left out” are the opening lyrics to the most iconic song on Is This It which is the marvellous Tom Petty inspired Last Nite. This is another guitar-driven song but leans towards pop and reggae influences as in the verses there are chord progressions which resemble those found in reggae tracks. This is a great number to fill any dancefloor. Also Last Nite is where we hear rhythm guitarist Albert Hammond Jr’s guitar solo playing for the first time, which is very soulful and blues-based. Notably through Is This It features the two contrasting styles of guitarists Valensi & Hammond Jr. This is a great aspect of The Strokes because not only do both guitarists have different styles but seem to share parts of lead and rhythm so effortlessly. Other songs that Hammond Jr can be heard playing solos are Take It or Leave It and Trying Your Luck. Hard To Explain is another gem of a song on this album with its fast-moving drum beat and catchy chorus. The introduction sees Moretti using techniques consisting of dynamic range compression and equalisation to make the drums sound like a drum machine. The same technique can be heard in Soma.
Is This It contains slick, sexy and undeniably cool qualities that has the listener singing along every time. The album remembered for its raunchy cover became one of the essential albums that set the benchmark for a new wave of early noughties musicians to follow such as The Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Kings of Leon. If anything this couldn’t have been a more perfect start for The Strokes which made them the true saviours of modern day rock ‘n’ roll. Is This It made the listener speechless because this was just a perfect template for any rock album. It was rock music but played with true sophistication.