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The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth

The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

THE third album from hip New York art-rockers, The Strokes, is an absolute humdinger and one that shows them developing their sound in ever more progressive and interesting ways.

From the breezy opening moments of You Only Live Twice to the final salvo that is Red Light, the album is brimming with confidence, diversity and quality.

Most notably, it features a more fuller sound, clocking in at 60 minutes, which is almost twice the length of their previous efforts so far.

This contributes to some genuinely rousing tracks that are packed full of terrific harmonies, excellent guitar riffs and more of Julian Casablancas distinct vocals.

As stated, album opener You Only Live Twice kicks things off in exemplary fashion with a terrific bassline, some chirpy riffs and some surprisingly non-distorted vocals (that sound vaguely reminiscent of The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins without the falsetto hysterics).

It’s sure to become a live favourite, courtesy of another catchy chorus and an unusually upbeat style.

It’s swiftly followed by the familiar strains of Juicebox with its Batman-style guitar intro and driving style.

Yet anoyne anticipating more of that style of songwriting are sure to be pleasantly surprised by the diversity that follows.

One of the undisputed highlights is the fantastically lively Razor Blade which drops in a chorus lifted wholesale from Barry Manilow’s Mandy to memorable effect, complete with a truly addictive guitar loop.

The same sense of experimentation is rife throughout another classic – the bittersweet Ask Me Anything, with its melancholy organs and fragile lyrics (‘I’ve got nothing to say’). It’s an aching masterpiece that you just don’t want to end.

There’s a distinctly indie vibe surrounding the likes of Electricityscape, a rousing blast of energy.

While a melancholy feeling drips from the guitar riffs of Killing Lies another of several tracks that showcase a maturer, tender side to the band.

Indeed, it’s as though The Strokes are deliberately striving to re-invent the particular New York sound they helped to define – but which has started to sound stale.

For the 14 songs that make up First Impressions of Earth are as electrifying and inspiring as their work on breakthrough debut, Is This It?.

The quality continues with the cascading loops of Fear of Sleep and the deep-rooted vocals of 15 Minutes, which was accurately described by one review as The Strokes’ take on The Pogues.

Evening Sun, meanwhile, draws the album to a suitably classy finale, easing you positively into the final track, Red Light that features more exemplary riffs and some top-notch beats.

It may have taken two years to arrive but The Strokes have clearly been having fun in the studio – First Impressions of Earth is undoubtedly another classic effort from them that bodes very well for the future.

It may be released on only the second day of 2006 but already we have one of the contenders for album of the year. Miss it at your peril!

Listening party

Track listing:
1. You Only Live Once
2. Juicebox
3. Heart in a Cage
4. Razor Blade
5. On The Other Side
6. Vision of Division
7. Ask Me Anything
8. Electricityscape
9. Killing Lies
10. Fear of Sleep
11. 15 Minutes
12. Ize of the World
13. Evening Sun
14. Red Light