The Strokes - Is This It (2001), 7/10

The American and Canadian track list is arguably superior to the original pressing considering the inclusion of "When It Started", being a notch above "New York City Cops” and its simple repetitious chant, to my ear. Regardless the difference is negligible, as these songs are all energizing and wonderfully driving despite their simplicity, or maybe because of it? Regardless of the methodology or the band’s place amidst rock music’s depressive state at the turn of the century, the fact remains that a song like "Take It Or Leave It" still gets me going no matter the time and place, it is simply too infectious and emotionally charged to ignore. The mellowed out, leaned back tracks are just as effective, however, like “The Modern Age” and its cool delivery. Julian’s vocals in a song like this are perhaps remaining almost too reserved, but they still work. So well in fact that it accentuates the album’s themes of apathetic interpersonal philosophy and struggling with inflated ego as an introspective youth. This album has clearly divided many of us music snobs straight down the line, and while there are ample reasons to hate its simplistic methods and entitled artist ethos, when you open your mind to its allure you may find a formidably vivacious rock album that contends with some of the very best. I guess you can’t please everyone, especially those looking for artistry over simple satisfaction in their music, which is not a fault of the consumer but a simple preference, and at one time I would be among that group. Of course the band is nothing special from this artistry perspective, these songs rarely venture into the musically unknown or even anything akin to complexity, we’re talking all 4/4 all the time. Then still, why are they any good? Simply genuine and heartfelt emotion pouring into every song with themes any young person can relate to, and yes we were all once young. Every member of the band is contributing this level of emotional buy-in, particularly Albert Hammond Jr’s guitar and Julian Casablancas leading the charge of course as the front man. They do also have a unique enough sound in their natural, barebones approach to songwriting and arrangement combined with gratifying distortion, as well as a uniquely cool charisma in delivery. Straightforward rock music has never been so delightfully effortless.