The Strokes' singles collection is a box set without a single wasted note

The Strokes' Singles Volume 1 is a historic collection from modern indie rock's Big Bang

The Strokes - The Singles Volume 1 cover art
(Image: © RCA)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

The initial run of singles from New York's down-at-heel brat pack The Strokes is arguably among the greatest since The Beatles, and in its own sphere had just as huge an impact. 

Landing in an over-produced and lacklustre 2000 alternative scene virtually indistinguishable from the mainstream, no-fi jives like The Modern Age and Last Nite – revisiting the raw NYC sonics of early Television and the new-wave vivacity of Blondie with a millennial insouciance – sounded like hook-line dirty bombs bursting from an East Village basement, levelling the landscape. Within months, a new generation of 21st-century alt. rock culture was formed in their sharp image and at their compulsive pace.

This box set of the 10 seven-inch singles released from their first three albums – 2001's Is This It to 2006's First Impressions Of Earth – is as much historical document as a clutch of magnificent pop moments then, and also testament to the way success inevitably lures bands from the undergrowth. 

It begins with Rough Trade's rougher-at-the-edges versions of The Modern Age and Last Nite, where the lack of fidelity makes up a good 60 per cent of the rebel-pop appeal, and covers the highlights of their captivating debut – the locomotive Hand To Explain, gutter-crawling epic New York City Cops and the gorgeous Someday, the sound of sunshine underground. 

Then 12:51 ushers in the slicker era of 2003's Room On Fire with its hand caps, synth-pop hooks and superlative yet underplayed songwriting, extending to Reptilia and The End Has No End. Finally, they go full-rock on First Impressions singles Juicebox and Heart In A Cage, consumed by commercial concerns within five years but maintaining melodic velocity all the way.

Besides an oddball funk collaboration with Josh Homme and Eddie Vedder on Mercy Mercy Me, the B-sides provide worthy footnotes. Wonky home demos of Alone, Together and Is This It charm with their drum machines and bedroom restraints. 

A feedback heavy cover of The Clash's Clampdown from 2003 is a taste of how powerful a live force The Strokes could be. You Only Live Once is charted from Taxi-theme keyboard demo to finished alt.pop hula, and Modem Girls & Old Fashioned Men is a lost classic. A box set without a single wasted note.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.