The Strokes

Record Review

Phases and Stages

The Strokes

Is This It (RCA)

Yes, it is. This is it. Raves are fluttering around this NYC quintet like a ticker-tape parade, and with good reason. Finding fault with Is This It, the Strokes' 36-minute transistor radio meltdown, is like deconstructing the Ramones; it's not what went into the haircuts as what bops out from beneath them. In this case, it's lean, infectious, uptempo pogo pop. Think Buddy Holly & the Crickets if they'd been part of the New Wave instead of the First Wave. The twin guitar lines skitter somewhere between Blur and Travis, while master tunesmith Julian Casablancas' nasal, processed vocals and stuttering riffs recall a bouncing Bowery version of mid-Nineties "It" boys, the Presidents of the United States of America. The sing-songy thump of the title track/opener preps baby moshers for the ensuing onslaught of twitchy, three-minute electrical shocks, which run together with a scrap of Iggy Pop here ("The Modern Age"), some of that Davíd Garza buoyancy there ("Last Nite"). Most notable, besides the snickering leer of "Barely Legal" is "New York City Cops," which was dropped from the LP after advances had gone out. ("New York City cops ain't the smart," chants Casablancas.) Final track "Take It or Leave It" scuffs up the band's faux-Brit-pop sheen with scabrous energy. No chips or cracks in this debut's silly-grin inducing veneer, just one short, sharp jolt of postmodern skank. Is This It, down with the upstroke. (The Strokes play Stubb's Tuesday, Oct. 23.)


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