A Closer

Take It or Leave It – The Strokes from Is This It?

I’ve written recently about great opening tracks (also see Sriram’s take).  What about closing tracks?  It seems a lot of times the latter halves of albums, much less the last track, are not a band’s best efforts.  Whether it comes from front-loading the best material to the beginning of an album or the fact it’s hard to sustain an album’s worth of good songwriting and music.  So toss-offs and experiments that shouldn’t have occurred can plague the end of an otherwise good album.

The Strokes’ first album is a wonderful debut, with 11 solid songs (not a stinker among them).  While the star of the album, and the one probably best known from the album, is Last Nite, my favorite song is the closer Take It or Leave It.  In fact, tracks 7 through 11 of this album arguably outshine the first half of the album (minus the decent but pedestrian Trying Your Luck).  One thing that was remarkable about this album was how polished the Strokes’ sound was, even though they were hailed as revivers of “garage rock.”

Take It starts out with a riff that bodes a darker place than the rest of the album, but when the drums kick in, it shifts back to the poppy (in a good way) rock style of most of the previous tracks.  Julian Casablancas’ voice works wonderfully for the Strokes’ style, though here he’s a little louder and angrier sounding than on other tracks on the album.  The song really takes off for me around the 55 second mark, as Casablancas sneers “oh, that’s right” and then shouts “he’s going to let you down” as the guitar and drum speed up.  But instead of just keeping the pedal to the medal, the band slows it back a bit down for the second verse, but then quickly turns it up again and around 2:05, a snare fill/guitar riff (which absolutely gets me every time) introduces a lead guitar that stands out over the drums and brings you rollicking towards the finish of the song as the band and Casablancas become more unhinged until the same snare fill and guitar riff from earlier close out the song.  More than anything else on this album, the last minute or so of this song is “garage.”  And a killer end to a great album.

Here’s a live version of the song that’s a pretty close representation of the album version, complete with Casablancas climbing into the stage for the end of the song:

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One Response to “A Closer”

  1. Buried « Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] quarter of an album.  A while ago, I wrote about a Strokes tune that closed out their debut, Take It Or Leave It.  Here’s a few others I’ve been listening to […]

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