I saw these guys in Shout magazine a couple
of months ago and even read about them in Vice. They have been called
the best thing to happen to the New York music scene since the Velvet
Underground and I couldn't stop thinking aren't these guys too pretty
to really rock. They have the look of a band assembled by some record
label big wig hoping to capitalize on their shaggy hair, MTV-ready, boy
band mugs. And can they dance? Doubtful. They would probably rather pose.
The comparisons to The Velvet Underground are somewhat apt I suppose since
front man (boy rather) and singer Julian Casablanca does at times sound
like Lou Reed, but the Strokes are no Velvet Underground. To give credit
where its due, I hear they are amazing live, but on record they are undeniably
mediocre. There are a couple of catchy pop songs to be found on their
debut full length Is This It, but overall the hype about The Strokes
is just that, hype.
Maybe it is the tightness of the production that leaves me unimpressed,
I always liked the roughness of the Velvet Underground. Lou Reed always
sang and played in a way that reeked of booze and New York grime. On
Is This It, the vocals are constantly muted and given an unnecessary
fish tank quality. And there are no mistakes or rawness on this record.
If The Strokes are representative of the New York sound, like I keep hearing,
we must be living in a pretty uninspired place right now. The Velvet Underground
are respected because they created a sound and a scene that was new. The
Strokes do nothing to expand music horizons.
In all fairness, I probably will pop this record in from time to time
on the merits of "Someday, "Last Nite," and "The Modern
Age," a few admittedly well-written pop tunes. This band could never
live up to the hype they have generated, but the nice moments on Is
This It show hope for a stronger sophomore outing. Until that happens,
I guess I don't get it.
-- Robert Lanham
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| October 2001 | Issue 19
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