Strokes, The - First Impressions Of Earth 12"
Out of Stock
When Is This It landed in 2001, prognosticators claimed the Strokes would break big, reassert New York's post-punk primacy, and save rock and roll. One out of three ain't bad. Though early references were made to canonical art-rock legends such as Television and the Velvet Underground-- bands that achieved more popularity after disbanding than at their creative peaks-- the Strokes were superstars by comparison: Their debut sold more than 2 million copies worldwide; the Velvets wouldn't crack Billboard's top 100 albums chart until the release of 1985's posthumous VU. But that's where the glory fades: The Strokes simply ascended to mainstream acceptance, leaving a potential underdog rock legacy in the dust, and accruing a truckload of backlash in the process. So one can hardly blame them for cutting their losses and going for broke on their boorishly titled third album, First Impressions of Earth.
Here, the Strokes simultaneously settle into diminished expectations (delaying an album until just after Christmas = not screening a movie for film critics) and wildly ratchet up their sound, trying new things, getting weirder, but remaining true to the core of their sound. Though always inhumanly taut, the band has grown even tighter, and now plays with a precision that, while coldly machinelike at times, is impressive more often than not. On songs like "Juicebox" and the standout "Electricityscape", drummer Fab Moretti and bassist Nicolai Fraiture form a no-nonsense rhythm section that keeps these songs as concise and focused as possible. Albert Hammond and Nic Valensi, meanwhile, build a complex weapons system out of just two guitars, interlocking like Thundercats and launching short singsongy riffs that add tension and spark, particularly on tracks like "Heart in a Cage" and "Razorblade".