Given the fact that Britain has bestowed upon the world the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and, more recently, Radiohead, it's probably not surprising that the British press has historically been somewhat snooty about rock acts from its former colony, the U.S. So the reviews when the American band the Strokes hit London earlier this year were astonishing in their almost insane effusiveness. "They're Lou Reed, television and the Ramones rolled into one!" gushed London's Guardian. Britain hadn't so completely surrendered to a group of Americans since Lord Cornwallis handed over his sword at Yorktown.
The Strokes, with members all between ages 20 and 22, hopes to conquer its homeland. The band just released its first full-length CD, Is This It (RCA), a scrappy, old-school rock album with yowling vocals, jangling guitars and cool, carefree melodies that stay with you like tattoos. The New York City quintet--singer Julian Casablancas, bassist Nikolai Fraiture, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. and drummer Fabrizio Moretti--has started drawing queries from journalists from as far away as Brazil, as well as advance raves from the U.S. press. "We try not to pay too much attention to things like that," says Valensi. "It could be a trap, to believe what people write about you." The Strokes may be young, but they're clearly wise beyond their years.