After my stint as the music critic for Benedictine University's own Candor, I have become a well-respected member of the press. What else could explain the fact that I got the newest Strokes album, First Impressions of Earth, early?1 Needless to say, I was both ecstatic and surprised that I obtained this highly anticipated released three days prior to its scheduled release date. Though I have had the album for about 3 weeks due to leaks, I still was glad to have the actual casing and high quality versions of the songs. And my first impression (pun intended) is that this album will get horrific reviews from the alternative music press, such as Pitchfork. But I think that this is unneeded and a little unfair. Room On Fire was maligned for sounding too similar to Is This It and now that FIOE is such a departure from the typical Strokes sound I have a feeling that it will get blasted in reviews. Nonetheless, here is a track by track review of the new album:
- "You Only Live Once" - a typically Strokesy song that sounds a lot like Blondie as my boo has mentioned. This is probably the most expected sounding song on the album, and would be a good choice for a single.
- "Juicebox" - the first single with a bassline that totally rips off the Peter Gunn theme. Julian has called this an "ugly song," and I understand that. It seems to be one of those love it or hate it songs, and it appears there is about a 50/50 break. I think it sounds very similar to "Planet of Sound" by the Pixies and I like it.
- "Heart In a Cage" - there is some serious wailing on this track. This is the first album that has a real lead guitarist distinction for Nick Valensi, and he performs throughout the songs.
- "Razorblade" - my favorite song on the album even if it is a total Barry Manilow ripoff. Once again there is a big Valensi guitar solo, and it's once again it is really good.
- "On the Other Side" - if you like the Julian Casablancas croon, you'll probably like this song. He goes nearly Johnny Cash low on the chorus, which is pretty cool.
- "Vision of Division" - this sounds like a pretty typical song until the 1:50 mark where there is an almost System of A Downish solo break thing that comes pretty out of nowhere. This song, along with "Heart In a Cage" show the Strokes stretching their legs the most.
- "Ask Me Anything" - the closest relative to this song off the top of my head is "Eleanor Rigby" by some band called the Beatles2. This is the first Strokes song that does not have any guitars or drums in it, and they are replaced by the always creepy Melotron (written and played by Nick Valensi). The chorus is "I've got nothing to say," and the rest of the lyrics pretty much attest to that.
- "Electricityscape" - the intro riff on this song is the darkest one that I've ever heard from this band, but the chorus is typically light and hooky. I'm a little disappointed that the chorus' drums actually resort to the disco pattern that has been all over the radio for the past year, but I guess they work.
- "Killing Lies" - Nikolai Fraiture helped write this song, which is a rare occurence to wrest a song away from the perfectionist Casablancas. On a whole, this sounds like a song Interpol would do if they weren't totally into gloominess.
- "Fear of Sleep" - the answer is 24, and the question is how many times is the phrase "fear of sleep" uttered in this song. This is an old Lou Reed trick, and everyone knows how much these guys love VU so it's really not surprising to hear. Then again, a lot of the songs are about New York just like you know who.
- "15 Minutes" - have you ever wondered what the Walkmen would sound like if they did an Irish drinking song with a lounge singer as the frontman? Me neither, but at least the song isn't terrible for the last 2 minutes. Definitely not as good as a fame-is-hard song as "Take, Take, Take" by the White Stripes.
- "Ize of the World" - I forget how much I like this song every time I listen to it, but it sounds very Room On Firey. Also, this has a bunch of Julian yelling which is always pleasant and desirable. And for the first time on record, Fab doesn't sound entirely like a drum machine while he's playing. Real abrupt ending here, a la "She's So Heavy" by those Beatles guys.
- "Evening Sun" - this is a very relaxed song, and that's about all I have to say about it. Oh yeah, it was cowritten by Fab, so there you go.
- "Red Light" - the drum intro is ripped off from "Rock-n-Roll pt. 2," and that's not bad. Plus you get that weird guitar effect from "12:51" on not one, but two guitars. Very danceable song, so I like it.
My score: 7.9
Predicted Pitchfork score: 6.2
- Full disclosure: A small independent record store somehow got their copies early and stocked them. But I am a big deal. Trust me.
- But not even close to nearly as good.