Strokes


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Is This It , 6.5/10
Room On Fire (2003), 5/10
First Impressions of Earth (2006), 4.5/10
Julian Casablancas: Phrazes For The Young (2009), 6/10
Angles (2011), 4.5/10
Julian Casablancas: Tyranny (2014), 5/10
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The Strokes are a band from New York, led by singer Julian Casablancas and guitarist Albert Hammond, that became a sensation in Britain with the single Hard To Explain/ New York City Cops, the EP The Modern Age (Rough Trade, 2000), and the album Is This It (RCA, 2001).
While a few songs of the album try to rock out (The Modern Age, which is a photocopy of Velvet Underground and Modern Lovers, Barely Legal, Hard To Explain, the blues-rock rigmarole New York City Cops), the majority dwells comfortably in a genre of pop balladry that borrows riffs and rhythms from the classics while relying on very basic melodies: Is This It, that apes the atonal lo-fi pop of the 1980s; the bouncy and spirited Someday; the ska with progression a` la Cheap Trick of Last Nite.
Nick Valensi's and Albert Hammond's predictable guitar workouts and a formidable rhythm section (bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti) provide the ideal balance between dejavu and fashionable.

Despite the hype that surrounded its release, Room On Fire (Rough Trade, 2003) was only a timid, derivative collection of average-sounding songs. The effervescent Between Love and Hate and 12.51 picked up where their singles left off, and You Talk Way Too Much continued the Strokes' obsession for redeeming the Velvet Underground. Embarrassing ventures into genres such as reggae (Automatic Stop), funk (What Ever Happened), ska (Automatic Stop), soul (Under Control), attest to the bands' limited skills. The End Has No End, which "boldly" crosses Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O Mine, says it all. This is mostly generic rock'n'roll (Meet Me In The Bathroom, The Way It Is, I Can't Win). There is virtually no musical depth in this album. This is as challenging as Britney Spears.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

Gli Strokes sono una band di New York guidata dal cantante Julian Casablancas e dal chitarrista Albert Hammond, diventati una sensazione in Gran Bretagna con il singolo Hard To Explain/ New York City Cops e l'album Is This It (RCA, 2001). Mentre poche canzoni (The Modern Age) puntano al rock, la maggior parte indugia comodamente in un pop che prende in prestito riff e ritmiche da Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground e Television (Is This It, Last Nite, Someday, Hard To Explain).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Massimiliano Monteverdi)

Nonostante l’incredibile hype che ha accompagnato la sua pubblicazione, Room On Fire (Rough Trade, 2003) è una pallida e derivativa raccolta di canzoni al massimo modeste. L’effervescente Between Love and Hate e 12.51 riprendono il filo del discorso iniziato con i singoli dell’album precedente, mentre You Talk Way Too Much è il trionfo dell’idea fissa del gruppo, proteso alla redenzione dei Velvet Underground dai loro eccessi. Imbarazzanti escursioni in generi disparati come il reggae (Automatic Stop), il funk (What Ever Happened), lo ska (Automatic Stop), il soul (Under Control) danno prova delle limitate capacità del gruppo. The End Has No End, che azzarda l’ibridazione di Billie Jean con Sweet Child O Mine, si commenta da sola. Canzoni come Meet Me In The Bathroom, The Way It Is, e I Can't Win sono solo rock'n'roll senza alcuna personalità. Tutto ciò può rivaleggiare solo con lo spessore esistenziale e l’audacia artistica di Britney Spears

There are few moments on First Impressions of Earth (RCA, 2006) that recall the past: Juicebox and You Only Live Once being the best ones. But Electricityscape, Heart In A Cage and the naked ballad Ask Me Anything add arena-rock or MOR touches that are reminiscent of U2 and other moronic-pop acts. The second half of the album is haphazard at best, relying too much on mediocre lyrics. The band, for whom originality was never an asset, has lost quite a bit of its verve. Less filler (this album is almost twice longer than their debut) might have justified the effort to smooth out and calm down the music, but so much filler makes one think that maybe writing/singing filler is precisely what the Strokes' second phase is going to be about.

Julian Casablancas debuted solo with Phrazes For The Young (RCA, 2009), a collection of eight songs that embraced melody and electronics. Except for Out of the Blue, that works as a feeble link with the Strokes, the other seven complex songs rely on mildly futuristic soundscapes paced by drum-machines in a broad range of styles and methods, notably River of Brakelights, Ludlow St, 11th Dimension, Tourist.

The Strokes made a truly collective album, not driven by Casablanca's lyrics and melodies but first composed by the band and then turned into songs by the frontman, with Angles (2011). The album is split between familiar Strokes catchy ditties like Gratisfaction (reminiscent of Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back in Town), Under Cover of Darkness (that sounds like a lost singalong of British pub-rock of the late 1970s) and Taken For a Fool (that could have been an Elvis Costello hit); and "experiments" that mostly fail miserably like the synth-pop of Games, the U2-fied reggae of Machu Picchu, the tedious ballad Life is Simple in the Moonlight, and Two Kinds of Happiness (with staccato electronic keyboards a` la Cars' You Might Think I'm Crazy).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Christian Dalenz)

Ci sono alcuni pezzi di First Impressions of Earth (RCA, 2006) che richiamano il passato: Juicebox e You Only Live Once sono i migliori. Ma Electricityscape, Heart in a Cage e la spoglia ballata Ask Me Anything aggiungono tocchi di arena rock e MOR che ricordano gli U2 e altri stupidi momenti pop. La seconda metà dell'album è al massimo fatta a casaccio e fa affidamento su testi mediocri. La band, che non ha mai avuto l'originalità come patrimonio, ha perso parecchio della sua verve. Meno riempitivi (quest'album è lungo quasi il doppio di quello di debutto) potrebbero aver giustificato lo sforzo di attenuare e calmare la musica, ma così tanti riempitivi fanno pensare che forse testi e canto ripetitivi è esattamente ciò di cui sarà fatta la seconda fase degli Strokes.

Julian Casablancas ha debuttato da solista con Phrazes For The Young (RCA, 2009), una collezione di otto canzoni che abbracciano melodia e suoni elettronici. Eccetto Out of the Blue, che fa da collegamento sottile con gli Strokes, le altre sette complesse canzoni si affidano a paesaggi sonori dolcemente futuristici al passo di drum-machine in un'ampia gamma di stili e metodi, in particolare River of Brakelights,Ludlow St, 11th Dimension, Tourist.

Gli Strokes fecero un album davvero collettivo, guidato non dai testi e dalla musica di Casablancas ma composti prima dalla band e poi trasformati in canzoni dal frontman, con Angles (RCA, 2011). L'album è diviso tra familiari e orecchiabili canzonette alla Strokes come Gratisfaction (che ricorda The Boys Are Back In Town dei Thin Lizzy), Under Cover of Darkness (che suona come un perduto "singalong" del pub-rock britannico dei tardi '70) e Taken for a Fool (che sarebbe potuta essere una hit di Elvis Costello); e "esperimenti" che per la maggior parte falliscono miseramente come il synth-pop di Games, il reggae ispirato agli U2 di Macchu Picchu, la tediosa ballata Life is Simple in the Moonlight, e Two Kind of Happiness (con tastiere elettroniche in staccato nello stile di You Might Think I'm Crazy dei Cars).

Julian Casablancas and the Voidz: Tyranny (Cult, 2014) The 11-minute Human Sadness sounds like it was recorded by a group of kindergarten children studio armed with a sampling device: just about everything happens. Except that Casablanca keeps singing on the underveloped mush, trying to provide a structure and a meaning, and his operatic excesses sound particularly funny, occasionally bordering on Queen-ish parody. It is particularly a bad idea when he tries to be too melodic, like the guitar refrain of Johan Von Bronx, which truly sounds like a musichall skit. In cases of extreme zaniness, the sloppiness becomes an asset: the seven-minute Father Electricity actually benefits from the way the orgiastic Caribbean polyrhythms are completely wasted against a pathetic litany and a mournful organ. Within such a collage of dislocated genres, a regular Strokes-ian rocker like Business Dog or Where No Eagles Fly sounds like a mistake. "Eccentric" does not even come close. For the record, some of the songs are anti-war and anti-capitalist propaganda. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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