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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Strokes of genius
The Strokes
The Strokes are the most hyped band in years
By BBC News Online's Chris Charles

If you believe what you read, The Strokes have reinvented the wheel, rebuilt the Pyramids and had their faces carved in to Mount Rushmore.

In fact, had they been around in the Earl of Sandwich's time, sliced bread would not have got a look in.

Whoah, let's slow down a bit here. We are talking about a bunch of pretty-boy New Yorkers who dress like the Ramones, act like the Stones and sound like they have been beamed up from yesteryear.

It would be so easy to hate them, but there is no getting away from it - right now The Strokes are arguably the most important guitar band on the planet.

OK, the influences on Is This It read like a Who's Who of Rock'n'Roll, with Television, the Velvet Underground and The Smiths all bubbling away under the surface.

The Strokes
The right place at the right time
But what sets them apart from the chasing pack is their uncanny ability to siphon off all the best bits and still end up sounding like The Strokes.

Aside from the fact they have assembled 11 inflammable songs which live short on the hi-fi and long in the memory, the key to their success is timing.

Like the Pistols and Oasis before them, they are in the right place at the right time and have a ready-made audience starved of invention, eager to drink in every last fuzzed-up chorus.

The band's repertoire mirrors their lifestyle - fast, slick and highly-charged. It is the sound of five young men who enjoy getting into fights and flirting with danger, but are not afraid to reveal the soft centres that lurk beneath.

Do not be fooled into thinking, though, that this is a group of working class kids who are one bad record away from a detention centre.

Defiance

Singer Julian Casablancas is the son of the fashion magnate who founded the Elite modelling agency and you sense the band's dislike of all things authoritarian is fuelled by youthful rebellion rather than genuine hatred.

Casablancas is definitely the jewel in the crown, pitching himself somewhere between Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop.

Whether it's disdain (New York City Cops), despair (Last Nite) or defiance (Trying Your Luck), he carries it off with minimum effort and maximum haste.

Add to that the unfussed efficiency of his bandmates and producer Gordon Raphael's less-is-more philosophy and you have got yourself a winter of content.

In answer to their own teaser (although note the arrogance of the absent question mark), this is it. Believe the hype.

Is This It is released on 27 August by Rough Trade

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The Strokes
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