The Strokes Is This It

Although chances are you haven't yet heard their music, it's most likely you have heard the buzz about New York's next big thing. Already critical darlings on both sides of the Atlantic (they recently graced the NME's cover and articles have already been published in Maxim and Penthouse before their debut album has even been released), the Strokes have only released one brilliant EP in North America and are about to release their debut album to more hoopla than you'd think possible for a group of early 20-year-old Manhattan rich kids. The funny thing is that they do deserve it, and maybe more, although the record is nowhere as good as it could have been. Musically, the band is a staggering tribute to the best NYC-area bands of the last 30 years. Strokes are one part Television guitar flash mixed with the Velvet Underground's art rock feel, the Talking Heads' intelligent swagger, the whimsical melody of the Modern Lovers and the barroom grit of early Patti Smith, these Big Apple pretty boys have seemingly assembled a VHI tribute to the '70s heyday of CBGB's, but in reality have created some of the most poignant and simple post-punk rock songs to see release this year. It's just too bad that the lacklustre production holds down the final product. While their debut, The Modern Age EP, oozed fire in its every nook and cranny, the band's decision to record the full-length with the same producer failed miserably the second time around. The songs themselves are absolutely top notch, although all three EP tracks are again included on the 11-track effort. Unfortunately, poor production values leaves one wanting more, especially when the album is compared to the EP. Is this it? Apparently so, which is simply too bad. The album could have been the best debut record of any band this year, or of the past ten years for that matter. Still, it remains a fraction off stunningly amazing. (BMG)