The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Strokes’ third album lacks strong lyrics

Back when the Strokes released their first album, “Is This It,” in 2001 and catapulted to the top of the rock charts, critics were quick to either love them or hate them. Some insisted that they were the next “saviors of rock and roll,” while others criticized them for their lack of lyrical depth and heavy emphasis on image. Five years later, we see that the Strokes are still one of the most popular bands in contemporary rock. But although their recently-released third album, “First Impressions of Earth,” has already sold well in only its first month out, does it really live up to all the massive hype?

Sadly, the Strokes are a perfect example of wasted potential. Their first album showed an energetic band heavily influenced by the Velvet Underground √¢?” frontman Julian Casablancas’ spoken-word slurs and occasional howls clearly mimicked the Velvets’ Lou Reed.

The Strokes’ raw, driving sound and slick guitar work made their first album a triumphant success, but their second release, “Room on Fire,” showed the New York City band at a loss for creativity. The album sold extremely well, but “Room-” depicted the Strokes as a band unwilling to take risks and struggling to write engaging lyrics.

“First Impressions of Earth” continues where “Room on Fire” left off. Its first track, “You Only Live Once,” however, shows the band in fine form. In fact, the Strokes play extremely well throughout the entire CD √¢?” the intricate interweaving of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr.’s guitars is better than ever before. The album continues to impress with the singles “Juicebox” and “Heart in a Cage.”

It is at this point when the CD starts losing its appeal. While the first three songs were interesting enough, the next 11 grow more and more tedious. The lyrics of many of these songs are horrendous. In fact, it has gotten to the point where you could swap lyrics from different Strokes songs and rearrange them, but still end up with basically the same songs.

As a writer, Casablancas knows two things: depression and losing a lover. The cliche themes and dull lyrics add little to each song. For example, in “Vision of Division” (yes, the title is really that corny) Julian moans, “I am not you, we can have/I’m almost through, great success/It’s about time, such a success/But you came through, no expense.” This isn’t exactly poetry.

In fact, the Strokes themselves even poke fun at their inability to write lyrics on “Ask Me Anything,” a standout track simply because it features only Julian singing over synthesized strings. He moans nonsensical lines such as “Don’t be a coconut, God is trying to talk to you,” and repeats the phrase “I’ve got nothing to say,” over and over.

The album finishes up with a few terribly uninteresting songs, many of which sound like outtakes from the “Room on Fire” sessions. Songs like “Fear of Sleep,” “Killing Lies,” and the horribly titled “Ize of the World” all sound so similar that you will later wonder how exactly they differ from one another.

So, are the Strokes the saviors of rock and roll or just a bunch of rich kids with cool names that can’t write lyrics?

Sadly, with the release of “First Impressions of Earth,” the latter seems more likely. Of course, if you are a fan of the Strokes and could care less about lyrics or originality, then “First Impressions” is for you.

But those looking for something a bit more engaging or creative should, by all means, steer clear of this album.

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