The Strokes

First Impressions of Earth (RCA)

The Strokes were labeled the saviors of NYC's rock and roll scene in 2001. But in the ensuing years, all the tricks that made the fab five so exciting — snappy hooks, drunken confessions of love/lust, and off-balance, VU-meets-AOR riffs — began to sound just as tired as the endless buzz bands ripping off Gang of Four. In fact, as the hype around Big Apple groups fades, so does the Strokes' appeal — or so it seems from listening to the laborious, overly long First Impressions of Earth. Instead of coked-up tempos and sloppy rock rhythms, Earth contains middling-speed songs that borrow ideas from heavy-metal guitar solos, Muse's driving wall of prog, U2's back catalogue, and corrugated dance-punk. Julian Casablancas's lyrics, though never substantial, feel particularly empty this time. On Earth's burbling highlight, "Ask Me Anything," the Rufus Wainwright-channeling Casablancas aptly repeats the sadly prophetic phrase, "I've got nothing to say." And that, unfortunately, is the most honest sentiment on the album.

 
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