From the jangling strum of the guitar to the gritty lo-fi drawl of Julian Casablancas, everything about this song goes against the over-produced maximalism of early ’00s rock. The song never particularly drifts beyond its lead melody and chord progression, but that’s all it really needs to be an outstanding pop song. No bombast or studio tricks necessary!
Under Control (2003)
Hot off the heels of their acclaimed debut, The Strokes showed a wider range of expertise with ‘Under Control.’ The hazy, surf rock–inspired strumming showcases Albert Hammond Jr.’s penchant for minimalist, yet infectious, guitar work. The lilting atmosphere exemplifies the band’s ability to write a ballad that eschews any and all cheese.
Where ‘Under Control’ takes the calmer, somber road, ‘Razorblade’ explores the same concepts musically but in a more energetic, beefed-up fashion. As part of their shaky third album, First Impressions of Earth, this one is something of a diamond in the rough. It retains the signature restraint of the band while boosting it to a higher intensity.
Tap Out (2013)
How misleading the intro is! ‘Tap Out’ boasts some of the most nimble playing the band has done to date. With a soothing organ as bedding, the song’s disparate melodies all connect unpredictably in between the falsetto. And then there’s that mean guitar solo.
Alone, Together (2001)
The Strokes raised the guitar game drastically with this one. It plays out in their usual straightforward way, but the guitars talk to each other so fluently that the whole song sounds weaved together. The technical savvy shines through the grim, rough edges of this brooding piece of indie gold.
Under Cover of Darkness (2010)
There’s really nothing like hearing an already fantastic band evolve. This song contains all of the trademarks the band honed over the ten prior years, but the dramatic flair of the hook puts any pop act to shame.
Slow Animals (2013)
There’s a fine line between electronic and live music these days, and this song bridges the gap seamlessly. The verses glide, with the kind of drumming that could rival a drum machine, until the chorus comes bursting in and Julian Casablancas soars over the rich and booming guitars with a sensual, counteractive intimacy.
Automatic Stop (2003)
Much in the same way as in ‘Alone, Together,’ the guitars dance with each other urgently, almost mathematically. The bass line comes swooping in to give the song a lively edge, which really accentuates Casablancas’s aching croon.
Oh, the joy of synth… Only a band like The Strokes could drop a full blown electronic song and still make it sound like catchy pop rock. The live band never leaves the equation, but the implementation of warm, analogue synths reaches a new dimension of cool.
Meet Me In The Bathroom (2003)
This song could easily have come straight from the late ’70s New York protopunk scene. The vocals cut in and out as if on an old, distorted FM dial. The lo-fi crunch is certainly present in this song, but it makes the tone far more warm than abrasive.