Review Summary: Not Yet It
I'll be honest, I spent way too much time debating with myself on the rating, switching from anywhere between 3 to 5 hundreds of times. Yes, I know, the rating doesn't matter, and real reviewing is about the opinions not some completely qualitative numerical assessment. But, if you'll indulge me, this does matter, at least to me, and I think the five does imply something at least somewhat important.
Because even though "The Modern Age" has songs that clearly need to be refined (although this is garage rock, so I'll give it a pass), and the songs themselves aren't the best from "Is This It" (save from maybe Last Nite), this is still one of the most important EP's of 2000's music, for a very simple reason: It was our introduction to the damn Strokes you guys.
I'm not going to say that The Strokes influence can't be overstated - NME has definitely proven that statement wrong - its undeniably present. An increased spotlight on The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys becoming the UK's fastest selling debut, people thinking The Killers was a good band, all of this is because of The Strokes. Part of that can be traced back to the bidding war that this EP sparked among record labels. This was 2001, when the Internet was in full swing, leaks of just about everything abounded, and the age of album seemed over. iTunes was just 2 years away,but music was already turning into a singles game again, because you didn't have to buy an entire album and just hope that the majority of the songs were worth your money. So the idea that a rock band (a conventional rock band too mind you, Radiohead had proven just 4 months earlier that an album didn't need to be conventional to get to the top of the charts and be critically acclaimed) could be the subject of any form of serious commercial viability seemed revolutionary in its anachronism. It really only took one British magazine calling them the saviours of rock and roll to make everyone lose their respective minds.
That's another thing "The Modern Age" had an impact on; in the build up to "Is This It", EVERYONE (okay, everyone who was at least vaguely interested in the independent music scene) had an opinion on The Strokes. They changed modern music criticism, in the way that everyone now is much more wary of any up and coming indie band breaking their little Pitchfork-addled heart with whatever their version of "First Impressions of Earth" is. "Is This It" was a fantastic album, but it foreshadowed a band who was already feeling burnt out with the praise and the sound with which they had become known for. Is it any wonder The Strokes started experimenting just two albums after their breakout success? Hell, it took The Velvet Underground three to get to their biggest break from form with "Loaded" (which was actually their most traditional album, but you get the idea).
As for the music, it's great. But you knew that, it's The Strokes in the first half of the 2000s, what else is there to say about "Last Nite" and "Barely Legal" and some other song I can't remember the name of at this point. What The Strokes did might have been very 60s in its hysteria spawning confusion, but it gave us the chance to realize that somethings are bound to disappoint us, no matter how many times we dub them as saviours. What could be more 21st century than that?