1. 2. 3. 5. 4. And now 6 goes between 3 and 5. I’m no mathematician, but if you’d asked me previously, then the calculation of where to put each Strokes album on the podium was a simple one. And yet – and yet! – having now listened to so many hours of New York’s finest leather jacket-clad patrons that my inner monologue is just a voicing drawling “Drums please, Fab” on repeat, that logic has been, if not blasted to bits, then at least a little dented around the edges. ‘Room on Fire’? Don’t @ me, but it’s got some filler. The supposed slump of ‘Angles’ and ‘Comedown Machine’? Well hot damn, there are some forgotten gems hidden in them there vaults. And all my life I’ve been a firm lover of ‘First Impressions of Earth’ when, trawling through the online archives, it turns out most reviews originally said it was shit! Who knew!
Which brings us to here: a thorough and entirely un-scientific ranking of every Strokes song that’s graced an EP or LP throughout their careers. So that’s ‘Is This It’ (2001), ‘Room on Fire’ (2003), ‘First Impressions…’ (2005), ‘Angles’ (2011), ‘Comedown Machine’ (2013), ‘Future Present Past EP’ (2016) and ‘The New Abnormal’ (2020). Sleuths among you will have noticed the glaring omission of 2001’s ‘The Modern Age EP’ – aka the one that started it all – but that’s because each of its three tracks also wound up on their full-length debut, with only minor tweaks and adjustments. And frankly, let’s not be pedantic.
So without further ado, let us begin. Is this it? It mostly certainly is…
69. ‘Chances’ (2013)
Unlike its saucy numerical positioning on this list, ‘Chances’ eschews all of The Strokes’ usual sex appeal, instead favouring a wet falsetto that’s more like someone ugly-crying over some lacklustre backing. No chance, mate.
68. ‘Killing Lies’ (2005)
If country music is famously just “three chords and the truth”, then ‘Killing Lies’ amounts to four chords and a bit of a cop out. Repetition in rock’n’roll can be a glorious thing; nobody wants someone fret-wanking all over the shop. But this one just sounds like it can’t be arsed, and there’s no need for that.
67. ‘Games’ (2011)
‘Games” ’80s synths and creeping verses aren’t necessarily bad per se, but there’s something laboured about its efforts. Nothing quite fits together, the sum total coming on like five people playing against rather than with each other. Given that even guitarist Nick Valensi was quoted at the time as saying the sessions for ‘Angles’ were “just awful”, maybe you can see why something sounds off…
66. ‘Slow Animals’ (2013)
“You don’t have to be so loud/ Everyone can hear you in this whole damn crowd,” begins Julian Casablancas, like a harrowing piece of bad advice to his future self at the band’s famously-inaudible 2019 All Points East set. ‘Slow Animals’ fares slightly better, but its chorus climax doesn’t punch as hard as we know they can. For a lesser outfit, it’d be pretty good; for The Strokes, it’s merely serviceable.
65. ‘Call Me Back’ (2011)
Actually a pretty good song, but this one gets marked down because the best version of it isn’t even by The Strokes. Instead, wrap your ears around Billie Eilish’s 2018 cover, which takes the sad sigh of the original and ups the affective ante, with only a single acoustic and some Grade A harmonies for company.
64. ‘Life is Simple in the Moonlight’ (2011)
The lone survivor of ‘Angles” original recording sessions with producer Joe Chiccarelli – ones where Julian would, more often than not, purposefully fail to show up to “force the initiative” of his bandmates, ‘Life is Simple…’ is a strange, yet notable, choice to close out the album. It’s a track with a lot of ideas, that almost, nearly manages to make them work well together: remind you of anyone?
63. ‘You’re So Right’ (2011)
An early sign of the more discordant direction the singer would go on to with his side project The Voidz, ‘You’re So Right’ begins with a juddering, sneering riff that seems brilliantly disgusted with the world around them. Yet between heavy punctuation points, Julian’s vocals meander aimlessly; re-watch the track from any of their previous live sets and it lurches from 10 to zero repeatedly.
62. ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ (2013)
Over the past decade, The Strokes have thrown the world numerous curveballs, but there’s perhaps no less expected a track than ‘Comedown Machine”s parting shot. Like a lost love song floating over the breeze on a balmy summer’s day, ‘Call It Fate…’ with its distant vocals and tropical twangs would absolutely bomb on the dancefloor. But with the sea lapping your ankles and a cocktail in hand? Sign us up.
61. ‘All The Time’ (2013)
The second single to come from ‘Comedown Machine’, ‘All the Time’ pushes forward on an antsy bassline courtesy of bassist and co-songwriter Nikolai Fraiture (rare is the Strokes song written by more than a few band members). Accompanied by a nostalgia-infused video featuring clips of tour larks and onstage carnage, it led fans to speculate that it was something of a parting statement. Which it sort of was – but only for a few years.
60. ‘Happy Ending’ (2013)
With ’80s fretwork nodding back to ‘First Impressions…’ and some suitably climactic chorus moments, musically ‘Happy Ending’ does what it says on the tin. Lyrically, however, it takes the easy way out that The Strokes have often succumbed to: vague abstractions that posture rather than really pluck at the heartstrings. “Feel the dizzy/ Feel the running show/ All I want to see/ All I want to know,” goes Julian – sure it’s about love, but it leaves you wanting more.
59. ‘Metabolism’ (2011)
Conversely, ‘Metabolism’ shows exactly how much a well-placed opening line can do. “I wanna be outrageous, but inside I know I’m plain, so plain,” drawls the singer – aka probably the man with the most magnetic je ne sais quoi in the whole of New York.
58. ‘Ask Me Anything’ (2005)
Note: you can only ever repeat the phrase “I’ve got nothing to say” if you do, in fact, have a lot to say. When you use it on one of the least adventurous songs on your record then, well… think about it.
57. ‘Threat of Joy’ (2016)
“OK, I see how it goes… You don’t have time to play with me anymore?” teases our mate Jules in an accent that we’ll describe as ‘martini-drunk housewife’ on this, the ‘past’ cut from 2016’s ‘Future Present Past’ EP. It’s loose and playful – a fair approximation of the traits that they first came to prominence with, yet for a band that had spent years trying to shake off the parameters expected of them from their early successes, it seemed a strange notion to so obviously throw back to them.
56. ‘Eternal Summer’ (2020)
Truly a track of two halves, ‘Eternal Summer’ twinkles magnetically on its verses before Julian huffs his way through the bridge with a vocal that Pitchfork recently branded “an unfortunate Austin Powers impression”. Not so groovy, baby.
55. ‘Gratisfaction’ (2011)
A Thin Lizzy tribute by any other name, ‘Gratisfaction”s easy, breezy charm comes partly from its nods to Phil Lynott and co, and potentially partly from the closer-knit way it was recorded. “They wanted to take the sounds somewhere else. They did not want to make a standard rock album,” said engineer Gus Oborg of ‘Angles’. It was mostly a process of me recording them one at a time, even though a few songs were played together, like ‘Gratisfaction’.”
54. ‘Macchu Pichu’ (2011)
Never let it be said that The Strokes don’t have balls. Because, after six years away, is there much more bold a move than opening your comeback with what is essentially an ’80s reggae jam? No your honour, there is not. Does being brave necessarily equate to being brilliant? Also no. Really, no-one needs The Strokes doing reggae. But there are still some good AHJ riffs to be found, and the chorus slaps so… swings and roundabouts.
53. ‘Partners In Crime’ (2013)
Considering that the band didn’t tour ‘Comedown Machine’, stating retrospectively that the decision was due to “not [being] in harmony” (“There was conflict and there was fear and we got through it and we made records, but it wasn’t, you know, out of pure brotherly love and musical inspiration,” elaborated Julian earlier this year), it’s impressive that moments of seeming togetherness such as this came out of that period. A fizzing piece of fretwork opens the track, while Fab Moretti’s drums are as insistent and alive as ever.
52. ‘The Way It Is’ (2003)
And so, to ‘The Way It Is’ – the booby-prize, last place finisher from the band’s iconic first two records. Why? Because it’s good, but it’s not that *special*. And when you’re competing with some of the most iconic songs of the century so far, then ‘good’ just doesn’t cut it.
51. ‘Evening Sun’ (2005)
On record, this ‘First Impressions…’ offering doesn’t hit the most obvious bullseye, but watch it back live from when they played MTV as young whippersnappers – floppy fringes, vintage jackets, easy charm – and the effortless cool that made The Strokes The Strokes is in full flow. Sometimes, you don’t need that many whistles and bangs.
50. ‘Tap Out’ (2013)
Beginning ‘Comedown Machine’ with a squall, before descending into a top pop bop that Phoenix would be proud of via some early guitars nicked off ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’, ‘Tap Out’ tries on a new jacket for size – and this time, it’s got shoulder pads!
49. ‘Two Kinds of Happiness’ (2011)
“Absolutely love this song. It’s definitely in my Strokes top ten. It sounds like something you’d hear in a neon-lit bowling alley, eating crinkle-cut fries and drinking Pepsi with your best friends on a Saturday night in 1989,” says Reddit user goth_bacon. A ham you can trust.
48. ‘Oblivius’ (2016)
Their spelling mistake, not ours. Chill out. Aside from a lax approach to vowels, this central cut from ‘Future Present Past’ was penned by Julian and Albert and you can tell: the former lets rip with a howling chorus vocal (“What side you standing on?”) that’s up there with his best, while the latter dances around the top end of the fret with giddy abandon. Fun fact: the track was meant to have an accompanying video, but “it got too political”.
47. ‘At The Door’ (2020)
The first release from ‘The New Abnormal’, flung into the world at the start of February, first seemed like a typically frustrating move from Jules and co – all purposefully jarring intro chords with an opening line (“I can’t escape it/ Never gonna make it”) that didn’t exactly fill you with hope for their next phase. But then – but then! – BANG: in comes a chorus so sparkling and classic it was like a whole different band jostling through the disenfranchisement to burst through said door and break free. And, spoiler alert, on the rest of the album, they pretty much did just that. Hallelujah!
46. ‘Between Love & Hate’ (2003)
Despite often going in for oblique references, this one seems to explain itself. From its reflective verses to a chorus made for defiantly shouting with a big wine in hand, it’s a familiar portrayal of that post-break-up internal muddle. Everybody now: “I never needed anybody…”
45. ‘Ize of the World’ (2005)
‘Ize’, cos it’s like ‘eyes’, geddit? Kudos to J-Cas for finding eight words ending in the syllable that also string together to make a fairly salient point on the conveyor belt nature of humanity. Bit bleak? Yes. Pretty good? For sure. Deeply annoying to look at when you don’t spell in American English? Oh yes.
44. ’80’s Comedown Machine’ (2013)
Featuring a Mellotron turn by Nick Valensi, this chilled out cut from the band’s fifth finds our heroes in wistful form. Vocals are gentle and hazy; drum beats patter like skipping stones in the background. It’s not ever going to set the world on fire, but in terms of showing that The Strokes have more tricks up their sleeve than the casual observer may realise, then it plays a solid hand.
43. ‘Red Light’ (2005)
‘Effortless’ is always the word wheeled out to describe the quintet at their finest, and ‘Red Light’ – tossed out casually at the end of ‘First Impressions…” 14 tracks – is a prime example of the kind of easy, breezy pop nugget they can whittle up like it ain’t no thang. More than a full decade later at their hometown Governor’s Ball headline, they still make it sound so simple.
42. ‘On The Other Side’ (2005)
Fact: Nikolai Fraiture is the most underrated Stroke. Never the biggest personality or the one with the most famous supermodel girlfriend, he’s the quiet one, the string-toting end of the rhythm section steadily keeping it together. Case in point: ‘On The Other Side’, where his rumbling bassline not only sets up the whole track, but gallops along in tandem with Fab’s drums for an effect that’s simultaneously peppy yet pointed.
41. ‘Selfless’ (2020)
“Life is too short but I will live for you…” Take your beau by the hand and croon ‘Selfless” doe-eyed sucker-punch at them for maximum points in the romantic good books.
40. ‘Automatic Stop’ (2003)
Albert Hammond Jr told The Guardian back in 2003 that ‘Automatic Stop”s reggae-tinged guitars were an homage to Cyndi Lauper’s iconic ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. Sounds mad, but listen to them back and you’ll spot the jaunty fretwork in the background keeping both tunes bouncing along instantly.
39. ‘Drag Queen’ (2016)
If there was one very promising thing to take from 2016’s ‘Future Present Past EP’, it was that, of its three offerings, ‘Drag Queen’ (aka the ‘future’ cut) was the most interesting. Despite unashamedly robbing its bassline from the Joy Division school of ominous atmospherics, its intriguing hodgepodge of styles (aforementioned JD throwback vs big, fists-aloft chorus vs a section of vocal that we can only assume Julian recorded after 900 pints) showed a band up for a challenge.
38. ‘Welcome To Japan’ (2013)
“What kind of asshole drives a Lotus?” Iconic.
37. ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ (2011)
Where all of the band’s first three albums were credited to Julian, ‘Angles’ marked the debut Strokes LP to be officially written by the full band. The singer called the new set-up ‘Operation Make Everyone Satisfied’ (ouch), but ‘Under Cover of Darkness (featuring writing contributions from all except Nikolai) is proof that, in some cases, the recipe worked. An immediately recognisable nugget written “about having to leave a loved one”, it’s a track that couldn’t be more Strokes if it sauntered out in a pair of shades with a fag hanging out the corner of its mouth. And among a record that felt like a slight crisis of identity, a little familiarity didn’t go amiss.
36. ‘Razorblade’ (2005)
Even a cursory Google of this ‘First Impressions…’ track will yield one comment over and over again: the chorus of ‘Razorblade’ really, really sounds like Barry Manilow’s schmaltzy fave ‘Mandy’.
35. ‘Electricityscape’ (2005)
The Strokes’ third album did a good line in pummelling drums and dystopian ’80s synths and, as such, ‘Electricityscape’ sounds in parts like the soundtrack to the indie disco Blade Runner never had.
34. ‘Why Are Sundays So Depressing?’ (2020)
Sometimes The Strokes pilfer a chord sequence or two from other people, but sometimes The Strokes just take influence from themselves. Take ‘Why Are Sundays…’ – a nostalgic look back at life with a defiant closing sentiment (“I’m staying hungry…”) that’s been mashed up with 2005’s ‘You Only Live Once’ to frankly, seamless effect.
33. ’50/50′ (2013)
A rollocking slice of rock’n’roll, ’50/50′ cleverly marks ‘Comedown Machine”s midpoint with a slice of Valensi fretwork that’s an immediate earworm of the Led Zep variety.
32. ‘Bad Decisions’ (2020)
And rounding off this section’s trio of Songs That Sound a Lot Like Other Songs comes recent single ‘Bad Decisions’ – aka The Strokes do Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing With Myself’ (so much so, in fact, that Idol and songwriter Tony James are both given writing credits). Add a splash of New Order and a spoof ’70s video featuring your own, at-home Strokes clones and you’ve got a track that pays homage to the past with a knowing wink.
31. ‘I Can’t Win’ (2003)
‘Take It or Leave It’ closes ‘Is This It’ with its titular question; ‘I Can’t Win’ closes ‘Room on Fire’ with a lyrical interjection of “I’ll take it”. Coincidence? Almost certainly. But you can’t fault the fan theories for trying.
30. ‘Taken For A Fool’ (2011)
Officially the best track from ‘Angles’ (so says us), ‘Taken For A Fool’ is a razor sharp cut with a needling riff and a chorus so classic it even saw Elvis Costello join them on stage at Madison Square Garden for a joint run through that would eventually get put to tape as a live B-side.
29. ‘Soma’ (2001)
In Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, Soma is the name of the imaginary, so-called “ideal pleasure drug” with “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects”. Putting his throaty howl to full use on their debut album paean to the substance, Julian might sound like he’s supplemented it with some extras for good measure, but the track’s deceptively chipper beginnings are fitting for a drug that makes all your worries go away.
28. ‘Under Control’ (2003)
The aural equivalent of being the perfect level of afternoon drunk on a balmy summer’s afternoon, Nick describes this one as “a song to chill out and get stoned to”. Count us in.
27. ‘You Talk Way Too Much’ (2003)
Because sometimes JC pleading “Give me some time/ I just need a little time” like his vocal chords are about to snap is all the pleasure you need.
26. ’15 Minutes’ (2005)
Beginning like a drunken, slurred New Year’s Eve sway-along, ’15 Minutes’ slowly inches up the steep edge of the rollercoaster (Fab’s drums literally sounding like the gentle metallic tinkling of the rails) before tipping over the edge and free-falling into a double time thrill ride of an ending. The closest they’ll ever come to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, if The Strokes ever did a rock opera, this track would be primed for a multi-part, dramatic reimagining.
25. ‘Is This It’ (2001)
There are few more recognisable openings to an album than the slow halting noise that begins this one, so why is it only at Number 25? Because it feels more like a very accomplished intro to the proper revved-up charge of Track Two aka ‘The Modern Age’ (more on that later…) than a big stand-alone favourite. Fucking great intro, though.
24. ‘Fear of Sleep’ (2005)
An underrated gem and proof that, sometimes, just repeatedly thwacking a drum, going hell for leather on two chords and yelling the same lyric ten times is all you need for a big cathartic pay-off. But for all its explosive moments, ‘Fear of Sleep’ – from its twitchy title to its cries of “You’re no fun” – is, like many of the band’s offerings, a paranoid thing. “Our second album, it was like: ‘If we don’t put something out quick enough, then this’ll be over.’ Then our second album didn’t do as good as the first and the third album didn’t do as good as the second, so there was never a feeling of: we fucking made it! Roll credits! It was always this kind of half-anxious, half-exciting ‘What the hell is happening?’,” Albert recently recalled of the period. And often you can tell.
23. ‘Not The Same Anymore’ (2020)
A torchlit slowie and easily one of the most genuinely gorgeous tracks the band have ever put to tape, Nick and Albert’s delicately intertwined melodies are the kind that’ll give you goosebumps for days. Plus, away from the throaty rips and mumbled asides that made his name, Julian turns in a vocal that’s truly tender.
22. ‘Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus’ (2020)
“I want new friends, but they don’t want me,” moans our hero. Of course, however, he’s lying; The Strokes adopted a rather notable new mate for ‘The New Abnormal’, and you can half-imagine super-producer Rick Rubin (go-to guy for everyone from Kanye to Gaga) in the background of ‘Brooklyn Bridge…’, turning up the polished pop chops and amping up the gloriously ridiculous ’80s pomp at every turn.
21. ‘What Ever Happened?’ (2003)
Because opening up your insanely-anticipated second album, the follow up to a record that turned you into superstars, with the line “I wanna be forgotten” will never not make you a bit of a lovable troll.
20. ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ (2003)
Rumour has it that ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ was written about a close encounter with Courtney Love, with Love also penning a ‘response’ of sorts in the hot-under-the-collar ‘But Julian, I’m a Little Older Than You’. Either way, the track went on to title Lizzy Goodman’s excellent 2017 scene memoir – soon to be made into a film!
19. ‘One Way Trigger’ (2013)
Is it ridiculous that we’ve basically put a song that sounds like Aha’s ‘Take On Me’ in the Top 20? No, because ‘One Way Trigger’ – released as the lead single from ‘Comedown Machine’ – might plink along like Morten Harket’s karaoke fave, but it’s stood the test of time. Not only is it the only track from the album to still grace their live sets, it’s also the only Strokes track Albert has ever nicked for his own solo shows. So there.
18. ‘Visions of Division’ (2005)
Watch Albert’s insane, lengthy, needling guitar solo at 1:52 of their 2006 T in the Park set and tell us that the man is not a god.
17. ‘Take It Or Leave It’ (2001)
An absolute IDGAF mic drop of an album closer, with a raging prowl of a chorus that’s sexy as hell. Ladies and gents, this is how you do it.
16. ‘Ode To The Mets’ (2020)
Debuted at their hometown NYE show last year, ‘Ode To The Mets’ is essentially The Strokes’ ‘My Way’. Slow-building, anthemic and with a crescendo made for drunkenly air-punching to with an arm round your mate, it might seem like an odd choice to announce your album with, but there’s a timeless quality to its sprawling wares. Plus, 10 points to the first person who gets a “Drums please, Fab” tattoo.
15. ‘Barely Legal’ (2001)
One of three tracks that graced their fabled debut EP before making it onto ‘Is This It’, ‘Barely Legal’ (try to ignore the slightly #metoo title) opens with a kiss-off to the people who wrote them off as privileged rich kids (“I didn’t take no shortcuts/ I spent the money that I saved up”) before soaring into giddy brilliance. It’s since been covered by such polar opposites as Azealia Banks and Real Estate – testament to its cheeky charm.
14. ‘The Adults are Talking’ (2020)
Debuted in LA back in May 2019, ‘The Adults are Talking’ began their comeback shows and begins their comeback record with the kind of sparkle that could make a grown fan cry. It’s not showy or bombastic, but it rings with the same effortless spirit that floods their finest moments – that casual je ne sais quoi that showed the boys in the band were fully back in the game.
13. ‘The End Has No End’ (2003)
Though not the most famously political of lyricists, The Strokes broached the subject on occasion (‘Ize of the World’, ‘Oblivius’) and none more so than on ‘The End Has No End’. From its opening gambit – “One by one, ticking time bombs won/ It’s not the secrets of the government that’s keeping you dumb” – to its references to 1963 (the year JFK was assassinated) and 1969 (when multiple protests against the Vietnam war occurred), it’s a subtle comment about culpability and human responsibility.
12. ‘Trying Your Luck’ (2001)
Originally titled ‘This Life’, ‘Trying Your Luck’ rips at your guts with the raw, overwhelming melancholy of being young and in love. It’s easy to forget that Julian was only 22 when they recorded their debut, and while from the outside they were five guys with the world at their feet, sometimes you’re reminded that they didn’t quite have it all figured out.
11. ’12:51′ (2003)
DUN DUN DUN! Yep, ‘Room On Fire”s lead track and their second-highest charting single ever in the UK (#7 FYI) just falls outside the Top 10. An overt tale about, says the singer, “the moment right before you fuck”, ’12:51’ has some classic teen film tropes (“Oh really, your folks are away now?”) and carefree handclaps that add to the general sense of giddy abandon, but when we’re getting right down to the nitty gritty (as our protagonists clearly were too…) then they’ve still got more juice left in them for this list. Woi oi!
10. ‘Heart in a Cage’ (2005)
Originally entitled ‘Private Dick’, ‘Heart in a Cage’ nearly wound up on ‘Room on Fire’ but its sneering spirit and ferocious musicianship are much better suited to the tougher edges of ‘First Impressions…’. “I don’t feel good when I’m fucking around/ I don’t write better when I’m stuck in the ground,” growls Julian. You tell ’em.
9. ‘Someday’ (2001)
Back in 2003, Nick Valensi told Rolling Stone that “when we were first starting out, we wanted to have songs you could do cheesy dances to — like the Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince or the Pretty in Pink dance.” Totally joyful and bursting with effervescent glee, this is The Strokes in their purest form.
8. ‘Hard to Explain’ (2001)
The lead single from ‘Is This It’, released all the way back in June 2001. Producer Gordon Raphael recalls of the sessions that, “The first time we met, I think it was Julian who said ‘We want to sound like a band from the past that took a time trip into the future to make their record’.” On ‘Hard to Explain’, they nail that timeless quality – part ’60s classic rock’n’roll spirit, part ’70s NYC cool, all at once fizzingly exciting but nonchalant and easy. As Julian noted, their aim was be like “your favorite blue jeans: not totally destroyed but worn-in, comfortable”.
7. ‘You Only Live Once’ (2005)
First finding life as the more nostalgic, sepia-tinged ‘I’ll Try Anything Once’ (later released as a B-side to ‘Heart in a Cage’), ‘You Only Live Once’ eventually evolved into its superior form, opening The Strokes’ third LP with an immediately iconic riff. This lot have more simple, brilliant bits of fretwork than most, and ‘YOLO”s carefree spirit is up there with the best of them.
6. ‘Alone, Together’ (2001)
So tight, so wired, so great. ‘Alone Together’ starts with a simmer, but every 30 seconds or so they tighten the screw another notch – the rhythm section locks in tighter; guitars jab harder; vocals go HAM – until climactic breaking point. ‘Alone Together’ was recorded in three entirely different ways, Gordon Raphael, arduously redoing everything over and over until the band were happy. Boy, was it worth it.
5. ‘New York City Cops’ (2001)
In a case of truly unlucky timing, ‘Is This It’ was originally slated for release two weeks after the 9/11 attack; despite being pushed back to October, the band still felt uneasy about including ‘New York City Cops’ on its US release, so in America the track was replaced. Understandable, but a real bummer as, from its cheeky piss-about beginning to its big, purposefully sing-along stupid chorus, it’s a classic. You can imagine a million sniffy muso bands listening to this and absolutely HATING the fact that this bunch of jokers just changed music forever.
4. ‘Last Nite’ (2001)
Fact: ‘Last Nite’ will still be a staple of any indie disco worth its salt from now until the end of days. It’s their most famous song, the one that even your Nan can hum, the one that first got the band a bunch of mainstream radio play and ignited the fires; like Supergrass’ ‘Alright’ or Blur’s ‘Song 2’, it’s a track that sounds like being young and drunk and having the time of your life. So why’s it not Top 3? Because ‘Last Nite’ is the favourite song of the fairweather fan, and here we’re going HARDCORE.
3. ‘Juicebox’ (2005)
If someone made a soundtrack for a version of Pulp Fiction set in a ravaged Mad Max-style wasteland, then ‘Juicebox’ would be its killer move. It’s sexy, filthy, aggressive and wild, with riffs so meaty you could hang them in a butcher’s window and a vocal that sounds like a man clawing at the doors of passion and sanity to break free. ‘First Impressions…’ might not have unanimously hit the jackpot with the public, but ‘Juicebox’ remains the band’s highest ever charting UK single and their only song to ever broach the US Billboard 100.
2. ‘The Modern Age’ (2001)
The song that started it all, and the titular track of an EP that began a bidding war and created a legend. Back when ‘The Modern Age’ arrived, guitar music was in a turn-of-the-century slump. Coldplay and Travis ruled the airwaves, and MOR was king. Then in swaggered five mates from Manhattan and even now, almost 20 years after it was first unleashed, ‘The Modern Age’ still fizzes with that sound of a band finding their magic. It’s the epitome of everything that first made The Strokes so exciting – that effortless, timeless, joyous glee that’s cropped up time and time again throughout this list. And it slaps.
1. ‘Reptilia’ (2003)
It’s obvious really. The perfect balance between the classic sensibility of ‘Is This It’ and the heavier, gnarlier treats that would follow; a track that, from its propulsive rhythm section to its surging guitars to its limit-testing vocal, shows every band member in perfect harmony; a song that still turns every crowd that hears it into one seething, moshing mass – ‘Reptilia’ is the monster that stomps over them all. From nonchalantly sexy (“The room is on fire as she’s fixing her hair”) to quippy and smart (“Our lives are changing lanes/ You ran me off the road”), its lyrics tap into Julian’s best moves, while musically it’s a beast. When an entire festival crowd are singing along to a riff, then you’re probably onto a winner, and few have won bigger this century than The Strokes at their finest.