When talking about rock music in the 2000s, the discussion has to include The Strokes. Before the group hit the scene, popular music was a bad place with prefabricated boy bands and increasingly dour rock ruling the pop charts. But The Strokes, along with their fellow post-punk garage rock revivalists The White Stripes and The Hives brought rock ‘n’ roll back in a big way, largely on the strength of their now classic album Is This It. And though the band has slipped out of the limelight in recent years, their legacy is indelible.
Formed by private school friends Julian Casablancas, Nikolai Fraiture, Albert Hammond, Jr., Nick Valensi and Fabrizio Moretti in 1998, The Strokes breakout was when they released their major label debut, 2001’s Is This It. Suffused with scuzzy Velvet Underground inspired guitars and frenetic New Order influenced drumming, the album made rock fun and sexy again after the genre had spent much of the late ‘90s stuck in post-grunge self-seriousness. The record went platinum in the U.S. and inspired groups like The Black Keys to get into the game.
The group’s second album, 2003’s New Wave flavored Room on Fire, was less commercially successful but it proved that the group wasn’t interested in repeating themselves for the cheap momentary gain. The band followed up Room on Fire with their most divisive album, 2006’s First Impressions of Earth. The record had a heavier, more expansive feel that fit in with the modern rock landscape but disappointed longtime fans because of its departure from the group’s established sound. After an extensive world tour and a hiatus that saw some of The Strokes release solo material, the band reunited to release Angles in 2011. While more thematically oblique than their earlier work Angles was a crunchy, purposive musical return to form and hit #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
The Strokes continued their creative renaissance with 2013’s Comedown Machine, though the group’s decision to not promote it led to its being their lowest selling album to date. However, the band has recently shown signs of wanting to reclaim their former position at the forefront of the culture. The band has recently booked their first U.S. tour dates in three years and there are rumors that a new album is in the works. And with the modern music scene moving into a more pop oriented direction, The Strokes are needed now more than ever.