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The Strokes – First Impressions of Earth

James Robinson

Music

2/11/2006





Where do you go when you’ve already been told that you’ve saved rock ‘n’ roll? The Strokes don’t care anymore (and by not caring I mean the sort of not caring where they probably care way too much behind their facade of nonchalance) and they’ve given up on impressing you. Is This It and Room on Fire rule. But they don’t want to be that band anymore, they want to fuck movie stars and enjoy their money, indulging in every half pie musical idea they’ve had, because as much as you hate it the devout Strokes fans will buy it anyway.
This album is too long for a start. It’s full of incompleted songs. Half ideas get drowned and songs never really learn to fly. Take track 6- ‘Vision of Division’, a number that always seems like it’s going to be good (an almost metal mariachi solo half way through is probably my favorite 20 seconds of the album) but falls flat. ‘Fear of Sleep’, ‘15 Minutes’ and ‘Ize of the World’ never even look like taking off, merely acting as illustrations that the Strokes have lost their ability to effectively edit their work. And ‘Ask Me Anything’ is a genuine stinker: Valensi’s melotron bumps up against Casablanca’s incoherent warble of ‘I’ve got nothing to say,’ which proves to be true. The first third tries to redeem the rest of the album. ‘You Only Live Once’ (you get the feeling it’s a homage to the Strokes of old, which is sad when it’s far and away the best thing on this album), ‘Razorblade’ (so brilliantly Barry Manilow) and ‘The Other Side’ (the lyrics are snide, snarky and drunken and the tune is one of few on the album that’ll really burn it’s way into your head) are tunes that’d probably be up there with any of the Strokes back catalogue. ‘Juicebox’ and ‘Heart in a Cage’ are decent- at heart, they’re good, but it’s just too many ideas thrown at the page without enough real thought.
So it’s hard to describe my feelings towards this album. As a whole I want to kick it in the teeth, forget about it and wait for album four. But then on the other hand the first five songs are actually pretty good and will probably hang around on my iPod for a good long while. I’ve wracked my brains and here’s the best metaphor I could think of to end this review. First Impressions of Earth is like bumping into an old girlfriend in the pub. If you look closely you can recognise vague strands of the girl you used to know, but inside you really just feel pretty damn awkward and a little sick that something you once held dear is now almost unrecognisable.