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Music / The Strokes

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"And say, people, they don't understand
Your girlfriends, they can't understand
Your grandsons, they won't understand
On top of this, I ain't ever gonna understand"
— "Last Nite"

The Strokes are an American alternative rock band. The band's members are Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (guitar), Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitar), Nikolai Fraiture (bass guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums and percussion). They were one of the four bands that were supposed to "save rock and roll" (specifically, Alternative Rock radio) for the new millennium along with The Vines, The White Stripes and The Hives. Out of those four, only these guys and The White Stripes are really remembered fondly by fans of The Strokes.

The band was formed in 1998, but the members have known each other since childhood. They released a few EPs that got them recognition and which launched a massive bidding war between record labels. Finally, the band settled with Rough Trade Records (in the UK) and RCA Records (everywhere else) and released their first album, Is This It, in 2001.

Then... well, it's a bit hard to explain what happened from there. Their next two albums, Room On Fire (2003) and especially First Impressions Of Earth (2006), are not as highly regarded as the first. Many fans theorized that Executive Meddling was involved, but the truth likely lies in the fact that they set the bar so high with the first album.

The band went on hiatus after the disappointing reception of First Impressions Of Earth, just to come back in 2011 with a new album titled Angles. The album has gotten very mixed reviews from critics, showing a step up from First Impressions Of Earth but still not a return to form for them. The band released their fifth album Comedown Machine in March 2013, to a predictably mixed reception.

Following another hiatus, the band released their sixth album titled The New Abnormal in April 2020.

Studio discography:

  • Is This It (2001)
  • Room on Fire (2003)
  • First Impressions of Earth (2005)
  • Angles (2011)
  • Comedown Machine (2013)
  • The New Abnormal (2020)

Is Tropes It:

  • Album Title Drop: Room on Fire is dropped in the bridge of "Reptilia".note 
  • Call-Back: "At the Door"'s musical bridge is similar to the melody of the chorus of "Games".
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Room on Fire opens with "What Ever Happened", opening with the lines "I want to be forgotten / And I don't want to be reminded".
  • Darker and Edgier: First Impressions of Earth is where the band's sound became more mature, at the same time as the lyrics got far moodier and more personal.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All The Strokes have a tendency to drift into this, especially Nick, Fab, and Julian
  • Epic Rocking: Five of the songs from their 2020 album The New Abnormal surpass the five-minute mark. "Eternal Summer" is their longest at 6 minutes 15 seconds.
    • Also "80s Comedown Machine", which is just a couple seconds off from being five minutes.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The reverb of "Happy Ending" fading into the crackle of "Call It Fate, Call It Karma". (Comedown Machine)
  • Garage Rock: Is This It and Room on Fire were easily two of the biggest albums to come out of the garage-rock revival.
  • Gratuitous Panning: Done to an extent, predominantly with Nick Valensi's guitar mixed in the right channel, and Albert Hammond, Jr.'s in the left, although occasionally this is inverted.
  • Intercourse with You: "Alone, Together" drops not-so-subtle hints of this.
  • Long Runner Lineup: The band was formed by Julian Casablancas, Fabrizio Moretti, and Nick Valensi in 1998. Nikolai Fraiture was then added on bass, and lastly joined Albert Hammond, Jr. as a second guitarist in 1999. The lineup hasn't changed since.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Pay close attention to "Razor Blade"'s lyrics and you'll realize that it's a relaxed, simplistic song about literally cutting yourself with a razor blade.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: "Barely Legal": "For the record, it's between only you and I"; "Machu Picchu": "I'm just tryin' to find a nice place for you and I". A grammatically-incorrect slant rhyme in both.
  • Metal Scream / Careful with That Axe: Julian Casablancas has fun with screaming parts, live and on record.
    • In "Ize of the World"; "YOUNG ADULTS TO MODERNIZE" in the first chorus, and "FURY TO TRANQUILIZE" in the second.
  • New Sound Album: Angles (and, to a lesser extent, First Impressions of Earth), but both still kept the original essence of the band to certain extents. Comedown Machine however, looks much like Casablancas' solo project from that time, rather than a Strokes album, incorporating a lot of discoteque-like sound to the tracks.
  • New Wave: Heavily present on Angles, especially in the songs "Two Kinds of Happiness" and "Games". Also present in "Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus" and "Bad Decisions" from The New Abnormal, but here it also incorporates the band's signature style.
  • Non-Appearing Title: A lot. Angles only has one song ("Taken for a Fool") where the title appears as written.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Used pretty often, except on tracks with more screaming such as "Take It or Leave It".
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • "Yeah, they were just two fucks in lust" in "Meet Me in the Bathroom".
    • There's also "Fuck going to that party" in "12:51," though it's so subdued and mumbled that it might be hard to pick up on the first time.
    • "I was afraid, I fucked up" in "Not the Same Anymore".
  • Retraux: The final track on Comedown Machine, "Call It Fate, Call It Karma". Well-described in an NME track-by-track guide of the album:
    "'s also got an eerie, last-foxtrot-at-the-Overlook-Hotel thing going on, with a plonking bass piano motif, gooey Alvino Rey guitar and a wax-cylinder crackle running throughout. It sounds like it's been beamed in from the 1940s. Which is not something I thought I'd ever say about a Strokes song, but there you go."
  • The Rival:
    • The Hives were their rivals for a few years, but they quickly went in a different direction. The Vines and The White Stripes could count as well.
    • They refused to play onstage with The Hives and The Vines at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist:
    • Julian Casablancas has experimented with this a bit since First Impressions of Earth, particularly on Comedown Machine, on which several songs feature multiple vocal tracks (often one in his signature croon, and another in falsetto, something he seems to have grown fond of more recently).
    • Averted on Angles, with Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr. singing backing vocals on a few songs.
  • Solo Side Project: Julian Casablancas has released a solo album while still being a member of the band.
  • Stop and Go:
    • "Last Nite" and "Hard to Explain".
    • And on Angles, "Gratisfaction."
    • On The New Abnormal, "Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus".
  • Studio Chatter: Two voices can be heard at the end of "Why Are Sundays So Depressing"
    "Hold on hold on hold-"
    "The click was always in you, Fab-"
    "It was never on-"
    "It was never on."
  • Synth-Pop: "At the Door".
  • Their First Time: "12:51".
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Is This It", "Take It or Leave It", "The End Has No End".