Sex, stripped-back ingenuity, New York City street smarts and a ’70s punk bent. The Strokes didn’t just disrupt the early 2000s music scene with their debut, Is This It, they annihilated it and created one of their own. Though their formation reads like a mythical chapter of rock history, The Strokes’ creation story is not the least bit contrived. In one way or another, the five Manhattan friends were destined to make music together.
There is an underlying and discernible unease ever-present in New York. It’s an undercurrent you can flow with or try (and fail) to push against. But, as those who choose to live between Gotham’s tight walls and bustling streets can attest, even when it feels menacing, it’s still exhilarating, thrilling and charming enough to draw you in. With Is This It, The Strokes presented the world with the musical manifestation of that undertow. More than two decades on, the record still marks the last time a band truly rose the tide for rock ’n’ roll. “A band like The Strokes only comes along once in a lifetime,” NME wrote of the downtown denizens at the close of their first major interview. “You should be grateful that they’ve come along in yours.”