The evolution of The Strokes

When I say ‘the first strum on a brand-new electric guitar’, do you hear the just-unboxed metallic rings of the steel strings? And can you determine whether that sound evokes anything to you? Because it does to me. That’s the sound that The Strokes have deftly harnessed over their career…

Hailing from uber-cool Manhattan, the five-piece took quintessential garage rock and put an indie sheen on it. Masterful? Indeed. Everything they’ve produced since their formation in 1998 has been nothing short of genius, though their first few albums were the clear standouts. 

The Strokes’ ‘Angles’ artwork. Screenshot sourced via Spotify

When The Modern Age began…

In January 2001, things really kicked off for The Strokes. They released their career-sparking debut EP ‘The Modern Age’, which found them in possession of many an offer from major labels. RCA Records won them over and signed The Strokes not long after. This was their ticket to future success — and boy, haven’t they had a lot of it?

That wasn’t it

Julian Casablancas and co surged to the forefront of the rock and roll scene at the time with their first studio album, ‘Is This It’, also in 2001. I’m just swooning as I reminisce, because this is when they delivered the dreamily addictive, riff-led ‘Someday’ to us mere mortals. It remains a lesson in how to craft toe-tapping genius, with catchy indie hooks, upbeat bass thrums and steady drumming. Does it get any better? Well, that depends on whether you prefer the deliriously uptempo ‘Last Nite’. And, do you know? I think I sit on the fence. Both tracks are indie-rock stunners that ooze character and Casablanca’s silky yet edgy tones. 

A new angle

They spent a plethora of hours touring all around the globe thereafter. This period of riding high also spawned two further albums, ‘Room on Fire’ and ‘First Impressions of Earth’, but it wasn’t until 2011 that, for me, they emerged with riff wizardry akin to their early days. ‘Angles’, their fourth full-length offering, packs a punch from the moment you press play; ‘Machu Picchu’ is a palm-muted electronic number, with plenty of sass. Let that track tumble into the absolute banger of a single that came from that record: the second song on the listing, ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’. The plucked strings, cheeky licks and searing effects furnished this anthem with all the brass it needed for its hand in their comeback. The chorus is wistful and Casablancas’ iconic vocals are as powerful as ever here. This one goes down in history. 

After that, they bequeathed us ‘Comedown Machine’ in 2013 and the ‘Future Past Present’ EP in 2016, which both have their fair share of solid songs. And shows? Well, they’ve sold out smaller digs and legendary venues alike over the years. Hats off to them. 

Dare we talk about 2020?

Once the clock chimes midnight on New Year’s Eve, 2020 will no doubt be a blip that people barely want to talk about. Well, that’s if everything goes smoothly from now on… But let’s not dive into fate-tempting waters. Back to The Strokes. What did they do in 2020? Save our ears from lockdown’s dreariness with a new album, of course! Enter ‘The New Abnormal’, which couldn’t have a more impactful, eerily accurate title if it tried. Electronic keys meet strings aplenty throughout this newer batch of material. To get you started, the big-hitting tracks are ‘Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus’, ‘Bad Decisions’ and ‘At The Door’. 

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