“Great groove band, end of story--I wish. True grooves extend toward infinity, for one thing; here the beats implode, clashing/resolving with punky brevity and gnarly faux simplicity.”
I’ve always had an odd relationship with “Is This It,” the album that put The Strokes on the map. Obviously, I like it a lot. Every time I play it, I think to myself, “damn, this album is good.” Then I file it away, and like the protagonist in “Memento,” forget everything about it. Even today, if you handed me the list of song titles in random order and started playing the album, I doubt I’d be able to match more than a few of the titles with the correct song.
And that’s why I led off with the Christgau quote that appears above. Because I think he’s right – with The Strokes, I’m not sure the words matter, or even the songs themselves. What matters is the groove, and on “Is This It,” the band manages to sustain that groove over the course of an entire album. They’ve never been able to do that since, and based on what I’ve read in recent articles about their disagreements over the album they’re currently recording, they’re never going to get there again.
It feels like I should say more, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure there’s anything more to say. I’d stop short of calling The Strokes a great band, but I would call “Is This It” a great groove album – even if I can’t name a single song (aside from the title track) with confidence. But I promise you, if you throw it in the CD player and turn it up real loud, you’ll have yourself a good time, and you’ll be moving with the music in no time at all.