The Strokes Emerge from the Woods

while the hype merchants in the media have moved on to fresh meat to pollute, the world seems just about ready to clutch Casablancas and co to their bosom once again

Feature by Duncan Forgan | 15 Feb 2006
  • The Strokes

HERE'S a poser for you. Is there any humanly possible way to feel sorry for a bunch of oversexed, posh, mega-rich New York City pretty boys? Actually, scratch that: there isn't. But it is interesting to see a band like the Strokes so blatantly holding an olive branch out to the collective listening public.

Back with a new album, their first since 2003's underwhelming 'Room on Fire', recent interviews have shown the group in a redemptive light, their philosophical demeanour light years from the brash and bratty exterior they once exuded. Rewind four years ago to 2001 and humility was in (mercifully) short supply as singer Julian Casablancas and his exotically named cohorts drummer Fab Moretti, bassist, Nickolai Fraiture, and twin guitar slingers Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jnr arrived like an off-the-peg panacea to feed our appetite for low slung Rock'n'Roll hipsterism.

Leather clad and impossibly glamorous, and in possession of a host of ready-made Velvets-aping anthems, the Strokes were, it seemed at the time, worthy successors to the garage rock crown. Packed out shows were received rapturously and debut album 'Is This It?' was hailed as a one stop resuscitation kit for an ailing music scene. Then, before you could say 'decent band but there's not an awful lot of substance there' things began to fall apart. It was fairly imperceptible at first, just the usual round of fawning interviews where band and media-whore journalist alike seemed to be trying to outdo each other in the blankly hedonistic stakes.

However, the band seemed to forget the cardinal rule of studied cool when it came to their second album: namely - you can piss the plebs off all you like by living a gilded existence but make sure you back it up with the goods. Its not that 'Room on Fire' was particularly bad - Automatic Stop, Under Control and trailer single 12.51 all maintained the same visceral momentum of the debut - but there was a lack of killer and a preponderance of filler; it was clear that something was up.

We were tired of the Strokes, the Strokes seemed tired of themselves, and the record was met with a tepid response. Nothing galvanizes a band like a good kick up the arse however, and while the hype merchants in the media have moved on to fresh meat to pollute, the world seems just about ready to clutch Casablancas and co to their bosom once again. While last single Juicebox was full of sneaky hooks and is driven by an irresistible bassline, the album itself 'First Impressions of Planet Earth', is an altogether more cerebral beast than its formulaic predecessors. It might not be possible to feel empathy with the Strokes but, you never know, there's an outside chance you might fall in love with them again.

The Strokes play the Glasgow Academy on Feb 7 and 8 and Edinburgh Corn Exchange on Feb 10

http://www.thestrokes.com