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First impressions of Earth

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A new album by The Strokes, hooray. After Room on Fire was a solid sophomore album with a number of cool songs and loads of cool lyrics, it predictably failed to keep up with the gold standard as set by Room on Fire. So what’s happening for their third album? Are there exciting new directions or will the band fade to obscurity?

First Impressions of Earth cover art A bit of both, I have to say. On First Impressions of Earth [buy at amazon .com, .de, .uk], they have more brilliant lyrics, a couple of exciting or cool songs, plenty of decent songs and a notable increase in song durations. A quick comparison gives:

# Ø Median Best songs
Is This It 11 36:24 3:19 3:17 2,7,5,11,1
Room On Fire 11 32:28 2:57 3:00 2,6,1
First Impressions Of Earth 14 52:33 3:45 3:32 12,2,10

I have a tendency to be sceptical about longer songs, but at the end of the day The Strokes are quite good at avoiding bad moments with those. What I’m more concerned about is the ‘cool’ factor. Back in mid-December the band did a couple of pseudo-secret gigs / press stunts across Europe. Reading the paper after that, it seemed that the author was most impressed by the band being so cool (and he admired that the visiting fans could sing along with the songs from an album that wasn’t even released at the time). But listening to the (studio) album, I have to disagree. The band may still be cool on stage – after all it always looked like acting too cool would be their problem, if any – but their album lacks the distinct cool disconnection that I loved on Is This It.

Lyrics sound like they mean something now. Or rather like they’re supposed to be important. Going from Is This It’s lyrics to You only live once’s requires a long journey. A journey that leaves you with better developed and less charming lyrics. In other words, chances that I could write lyrics like those new ones are much better than chances for me to come up with the old ones… which apart from making things a bit less exciting and a bit more conventional means that those lyrics are well thought-out and cool.

My ultra-short impressions of the songs are:

Good: Juicebox, Fear of Sleep (including >20 repetitions of You’re no fun and a few others, thus almost beating Clap Your Hands Say Yeah for the most repetitive lyrics), Ize of the world (despite its length my favourite), Red light (Get yourself a lawyer and a gun, they’re Americans after all)

Nice: You only live once, Razorblade (My feelings are more important than yours), On the other side (slightly dull in fact, but containing the lines I hate them all / I hate them all / I hate myself for hating them / So I’ll drink some more / I’ll love them all / I’ll drink even more / I’ll hate them even more than I did before), Ask me anything, Electricityscape (a tad boring, though), Evening Sun

A bit dull: Heart in a cage, Vision of division, Killing lies, 15 Minutes

The album isn’t bad. But to be honest, I had expected a bit more. Or rather, less and possibly shorter songs but with more new directions and ideas. Next we’ll have to see how it stands the test of time, whether it’ll grow on me and how frequently we’ll hear its songs when going out.

January 3, 2006, 1:32

Tagged as strokes.

Comments

Comment by Diana: User icon

I think If you heard it only 3 times you released that is such a gorgeous album (in any way) Im so tired of you easy and silly clasification of the songs, you just cant clasificate that songs by “good”, “nice” or “a bit dull” man, think about it a bit. ANd the comparation whit the others albums is such a bullshit too. An album doesnt must be so long to be good man, but actually there is many bands that feel comfortable doing long songs, like The Mars Volta, but the way The Strokes do it is another, so what? It would be worst if they do too long songs, because, (I think) thats not their style by now. But whow knows what The Strokes gonna do in the future ?

January 11, 2006, 0:34

Comment by Matt: User icon

dude, give this album a chance. it really grew on me and now i can’t stop listening to every song. “red light” is the straight dope and may be one of their best tunes…

January 20, 2006, 19:05

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