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[Off The Record]
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The Strokes
THE MODERN AGE
(BEGGARS BANQUET)

On the basis of little more than this wonderfully brief and immediately enthralling three-song EP (originally released by Rough Trade in England), New York Cityís the Strokes were in record time deemed the great new indie hope, blurbed in Rolling Stone, and signed to RCA all before they could release anything at home (indie or otherwise), or tour, or become anything more than a buzzword signifying a potential commodity. Itís a mystery what, other than the hysteria of hype, has given RCA the idea that these guys can sell records, but on the up side, when the bandís full-length debut comes out in the fall, the label will at least have something worth buying.

The Modern Ageís opening title track is responsible for the Strokesí reputation as Velvet Underground revivalists, though thatís mostly the doing of the singer, whose stuttering swagger and frenetic cheap-mike-through-a-bad-PA bursts of bad juju nail Lou Reedís swoon of bleary-eyed excess. Whatís better than mere impersonation is the way his voice works: it grabs you by the lapel and shakes the decorum from your bowels. (In person he looks like an exclusive-prep-school hustlerís wet dream: bored to tears, reeking of entitlement and leisure, another of NYCís angelic gutterboys.) The second song, " Last Nite, " assumes the bouncy, jangly, spring-in-your-step, cigarette-in-hand quality of Iggyís " Lust for Life " : itís a compulsively joyous song for manic-depressives. On the last and poppiest cut, " Barely Legal, " he seduces an underage girl, steals her car (so sheís not too underage, right?), and drawls, in his best Iggy slur, " I just want to mis-a-behave/I just wanna be your slave. " Probably be your dog, too, if you asked.

BY CARLY CARIOLI

Issue Date: May 17 - 23, 2001





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