Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Things I Do For Love

So on my way home from work yesterday I bought the first Strokes record from a used bin. I know it is only three or so years after it came out before I managed to getting around to purchasing it and listening to it, and they have released another record that managed to defuse a great deal of their commercial and critical momentum since, but I'm buying it as a way of attempting to tangentially weasel my way into sex. I got the curiously Spinal Tap 'Smell The Glove' esque version with 'New York City Cops', instead of some other tune. I had heard scuttlebutt to the effect that post 9/11 something insinuating the New York's finest weren't of the highest intellectual caliber would be tantamount to treason, so they slapped on another song instead. Fine. But I've got the other, original version, which was easy to find used.

(Let me digress for a second to bitch about Guiliani. All this post 9/11 scuttlebutt talk has me riled up. Previously, it was fashionable to despise Giuliani, for pissing all over New York, obliterating Times Square to make way for Universal Citywalk East, sending his very intelligent emissaries of mediocrity to shove plungers up the anus's of Haitian immigrants, and coming down on crime such as selling books on the street. But then some assholes ram a pair of airplanes into two tall buildings, Giulani tells the public that price gouging will not be tolerated, appears on a typically weak and unfunny episode of Saturday Night Live, and continues with his tactic of getting his face in front of any camera he possibly can. Yep, it's safe to say Giuliani likes the camera, and this media exposure, coupled with a public absolutely desperate for a hero after a frightening act, catapults this overrated publicity whore into Man of the Year in Time Magazine. Hitler had won Man Of The Year previously [1938, look it up], Man Of The Year generally being reserved to the person who had the most effect on the world. But the spineless wimps at Time were too horrified of the potential reaction [could you imagine the the ignorant throngs, moaning at the though of Bin Laden being crowned?], that now they have to go with the Feel Good Man Of The Year prize instead. Then it became fashionable to worship Giuliani, despite his accomplishments being, um, getting on Television. It's apparently pretty easy to be a hero these days. Now I see Giuliani flogging his good buddy Bush on every chance he gets, defending the every word and action of a worthless, violent, not especially smart, cocksucker that took advantage of the amount of idiots in the country to get his dumb ass into the White House. Fuck you, Guiliani, and Fuck You Bush, and Fuck You, New York, and Fuck You, Time, and Fuck You, America.)

The cover of the Strokes record certainly wasn't encouraging, hepster sanctioned ironic detachment gives me a serious case of the yawns. The rear cover, the backlit Strokes wearing hipster du jour clothing that must have taken a few professional stylists to come up with, and a Stroke striking some kind of Surfer pose pointing at the camera in a really childish fashion, well, the net effect was I wanted to throw it out of my car window before I had a chance to play it.

Then I listened to it, and was pleasantly surprised. For mainstream rock marketed to every person on the planet under 35, it doesn't feel like it. The arrangements are tasteful, the songwriting's catchy, the lo-fi vocals are easy to take, and in general the songs are harmless and not irritating. Not irritating is usually the highest award I can bestow on a mass-market record. I'm thankful they didn't include a lyric sheet (never a good idea), good for you, Strokes. The guitars bounce around nicely, delicate lines alternating with faster strumming, uncluttered drumming (which, thanks to the production, occasionally sounds, in an intriguing way, like a drum machine), and some fine bass playing.

Hey, Phil?
Do, you're saying, you like the record?
Are you going to buy the new one?
Is it the best record you've heard in ages?
Fuck no.

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