I wrote some fawning stuff about The Strokes a couple of years back, and I think it’s fair to say that my regulars weren’t completely on my side. Indeed, some of the comments left behind contained two of the most scathing but wonderfully worded criticisms of anything that’s appeared on this blog all these years:-
“I never understood the fuss….it just sounded to me as they couldn’t be arsed. I thought they sounded like a low-rent Television’ : The Robster
“The Strokes always sounded like and came off as superficial to me. I’m grounded in a love of all things Downtown NYC since I was a teen – VU, Television, The Dolls, Talking Heads, Ramones having grown up with it. The Strokes were always like a fashion magazine update of the scene and lacked the gravitas” : Echorich
I’ll stand by my original views, namely that they were a very welcome breath of fresh air back in 2001. I was so sure I would never again get overly excited by thin young men and their electric guitars, but my first exposure to Hard To Explain changed all of that. It was, without question, a throwback to the post-punk/new wave era and it did pay its dues to NYC bands from that era, but it also managed to infuse something of the British pop ideals which made it immediately more accessible and radio-friendly than most. It wasn’t really their fault that they all looked as if they could have equally been at ease on a catwalk.
Hard To Explain was a killer debut 45. The follow-ups which also featured on the debut album – Last Nite and Someday – were every bit as good. It was that very rare instance of a new act being loved by the critics and selling the product to millions of fans. Oh and the b-side wasn’t too shabby either.