The Strokes : First Impressions Of Earth
I've been pounding this CD for a couple of weeks now trying to put my finger on why it's a step down from their first two releases. Admittingly, it's very difficult, if not downright impossible, for any group to maintain such unbelievably high standards and expectations.....but I expected better than what was given to us this time around.
There is some great material here. Songs such as "You Only Live Once", "Juicebox", "Evening Sun" & "Red Light" are all up to the usual standards and could set comfortably on either Is This It? or Room On Fire. "You Only Live Once" in particular is vintage Strokes, while "Juicebox" has everything an alternative single should have (a meancingly fast bassline, soaring bridges, distortion, above average lyrics).
The release bogs down after the opening salvo of those two tracks however. "Heart In A Cage", "On The Other Side", "Fear Of Sleep" and "Vision Of Division" waste good riffs on half-formed songs and very questionable lyrics. Casablancas vocals are a source of irritation for the very first time as well. His singing style sinks "On The Other Side" while adding to the seemingly forced experimentation that leads the band into some of it's worst songs to date (See "Killing Lies").
"Razorblade" is an arty trainwreck. Stumbling instrumtation around an arrhythmic drumbeat who's chorus is sung in a style that directly rips off Barry Manilow's "Mandy". If that wasn't bad enough, you then encounter the ultra-annoying "Ask Me Anything" two tracks later. It's main function appears to be just a cello playing Yo La Tengo's "Big Day Coming" riff at different octaves while Casablancas sings "I've got nothing to say" over and over and over again. He also hits lyrical rock bottom on the track with the immortal line "Don't be a coconut, God is trying to talk to you"....IMO, his poetic licence should be damn near revoked over that one.
Overall, a very frustrating and disappointing album. Hardcore fans will love it no doubt and there are certainly worse things to purchase, but this is a transitional disc. As with most transitional releases, some of it works, some of it fails and some of it should've never been attempted in the first place. Hopefully, some of the expirments attempted here will be more fully developed and realized on future releases.
Ona scale of zero to five stars......it barely gets three.