The Strokes ‘Is This It?’, is it their finest work?
Debut albums can make or break a band, with them being their main breakthrough into fame and recognition. Some bands master the art of releasing a debut album which will win them legions of fans, others don’t. The Strokes however, completely redefined what a debut album can achieve.
Releasing Is This It in 2001, The Strokes were new to the indie-rock scene, with just an EP and a handful of singles prior. Is This It saw them breakthrough onto the music scene overnight; an instant hit.
The album propelled them to stardom, with it becoming one of the most iconic indie-rock records in the 00’s. It smashed onto the UK albums chart at number 2; unheard of at the time, as indie & garage-rock were beginning to dwindle.
Every song packs a punch, no song on the entire 11-track compilation gets lost amongst the rest. Most notably, each track is completely timeless. Even today, Is This It is still played in venues, pubs, bars etc. and it is near impossible to attend an indie club night without ‘Last Nite’, or ‘Take It or Leave It’ being a part of the setlist.
‘Someday’ is perfect in its entirety, alongside ‘Alone, Together’ which resonates with probably anyone listening to it. ‘New York City Cops’ might have been controversial in the band’s native America, even getting taken off the album track list over there, yet it still remains iconic, and has probably become more and more relevant as the years have gone on.
Some questioned whether Is This It would define the band into the category of a ‘one-hit wonder’, yet they defied those perceptions too. The Strokes’ sound has became iconic in the way that it is only relevant to them, no other band sounds like them or even attempts it. They’re renowned for their riffs, and it’s difficult to find a band that masters it as well as they do, never mind on a debut album.
Apart from gaining instant stardom, and a legion of fans, Is This It is also seen to of redefined an entire genre of music. Classic NYC rock, but with a retro, garage influence. The cover art (explicit yet eye-catching), their sound, and even their look as a band redefined what anyone in 2001 classed as indie-rock.
The Strokes set the tone for the genre from the early 00’s, and continue to remain incomparable. Very few debut albums can compete with Is This It, not just in originality, but the influence it had on the entire genre and era of music.
Words by Danni King