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Every The Strokes Album Ranked

The Strokes, everyone’s favorite contemporary rock band that surprisingly isn’t British. Their award-winning career has spanned 25+ years and 6 full-length albums. From iconic songs and stoic performances to predictable curmudgeonly on-stage rants, multiple solo careers, side projects, and most recently, a Grammy. Not bad for a group of boarding school punks, whose fathers include millionaire business moguls and famous songwriters, and whose mothers are literally beauty queens and international models. The Strokes are what happens when the Gallagher brothers have a wealthy, privileged childhood and for that, we’re thankful.

So whether you’re a fan or not, strap in for this rundown of their records. As always, if you don’t agree with this definitive ranking, please refer to the words of vocalist Julian Casablancas on “Razorblade” – “My feelings are more important than yours. Drop dead, I don’t care, I won’t worry.”

6. Comedown Machine (2013)

It’s ok to like this album, but if this is anywhere near your favorite Strokes record you are officially required to burn that Urban Outfitters band tee you’re wearing and attend an actual show. Past Strokes albums have been defined by the band’s consistency and signature thinned-out sound, but this time around an array of diverse production techniques and synths has buried the band’s real charm in much less thoughtful noise than listeners are used to. The record starts out as a spiritual successor to 2011’s “Angles,” with its bouncy synths and experimental elements, but ultimately delivers a less enjoyable experience. Like a third cup of tea made with the same leaves, this one will leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Play it again: “Welcome to Japan”
Skip it: “Chances”

5. Angles (2011)

Fresh off a lengthy hiatus, “Angles” sought to introduce a fresh new take on the band’s iconic sound by immediately going back in time 30 years. “Angles” sees the Strokes coming out of their hibernation sounding a lot like Minus The Bear for some reason and admittedly it works, at times… Despite a strong start, “Angles” quickly loses the plot as it descends into full ‘80s synth nostalgia where speculation of drum machine usage from their early days became reality. Fans and the band alike don’t seem to care for this one too much, seeing how it’s been largely absent for tour setlists.

Play it again: “Taken for a Fool” or, if you’re a purist, “Under Cover of Darkness”
Skip it: “Call Me Back”

4. Room on Fire (2003)

Picking up where their debut left off, “Room on Fire” has some definite heat, with iconic songs like “Reptilia,” but to be honest a lot of this record could have been “Is This It” B-sides. “Room on Fire” is still beloved, and for good reason, but like an old friend that shows up to a party empty-handed, it’s predictably good company with a few shortcomings. Some people will call this album 1B to their debut’s 1A, but those people are stuck in the past and they know it.

Play it again: “Reptilia”
Skip it: “Under Control”


3. The New Abnormal (2020)

Despite their longest break in releases to date, the band ultimately made the smart decision not to hang it up after “Comedown Machine,” henceforth referred to as “Letdown Machine.” In fact, “The New Abnormal” is the comeback album “Angles” wishes it was–giving the band’s second chapter something sturdy to stand on. But, like “Star Wars” before it, the second trilogy will never live up to the original. The band teamed up with legendary producer, the famously homeless-looking Rick Ruben, to capture an extremely well-put-together album that is equal parts nostalgic and modern with some fun self-referential moments to boot. We love this record because it essentially puts the prior two through rigorous distillation to produce one of their most palatable releases to date. Despite coming out in the darkest months of a pandemic, this record is a summer-y, beach-rock Strokes record if the band could ever have one. There are some melodies that border on annoying and childish, but overall this is a fun one that old-school and new-era Strokes fans can easily appreciate.

Play it again: “Brooklyn Bridge to Chrous”
Skip it: “Why Are Sundays So Depressing”

2. First Impressions of Earth (2006)

Dialing back the compression a little and driving up the tempos and distortion, this record takes what The Strokes do well and pours a 16oz coffee right down its throat. Tracks like “You Only Live Once” bring their classic sound in its highest form before yoloing (sorry) into some of their heaviest tracks ever recorded. “First Impressions of Earth” led to many discoveries including the popularity of the Arctic Monkeys, Julian Casabalanca’s solo career, and the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 hit with “Juicebox.” But despite the record’s notable energy boost, the center cuts actually drag a bit. The aptly titled “15 Minutes” sort of feels like it, and at nearly an hour in length, the album’s runtime is double that of the band’s other releases. Fortunately this is the only real criticism of the band’s most rock-centric album.

Play it again: “Heart In a Cage,” “Juicebox,” and the iconic “You Only Live Once” #yolo
Skip It: “Evening Sun”

1. Is This It (2001)

“Is This It” is a certified classic for a reason so we’re not going to sit here and risk crapping on it. The band struck gold with their debut release, delivering hit-after-hit and some of the genre’s most-iconic songs. Casual music fans will recognize 70% of these tracks–even if they mistakenly attribute one to some nineties one-hit wonder or The Killers. Hell, if a song from this album plays at a wedding everyone from your grandmother to your 5-year-old niece will legitimately “bop to it” and the only complaints will come from audiophiles and bedroom producers blathering on about telephone effects and envelope filters. Who invited them anyway? Like any good rock record, this one burst onto the scene unexpectedly and was the subject of not one, but TWO, scandals—leading to re-releases with alternate album art and the removal of “New York City Cops” from the tracklist following 9/11. All in a days work for this legendary piece of rock history.

Play it again: Good advice. If you were born after 2001, play it twice.
Skip it: If you’re too pretentious to enjoy a universally-beloved, genre-defining, iconic post-rock record.