The Strokes - First Impressions Of Earth (Vinyl)

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First Impressions of Earth is the third studio album by American band The Strokes. It was released through RCA Records on December 30, 2005.Three singles were released from the album: “Juicebox”, “Heart in a Cage” and “You Only Live Once”.
The album was recorded over a ten-month period. The Strokes initially set out to record it with Gordon Raphael, the producer of their first two albums. Later on, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr introduced them to Grammy Award-winning producer David Kahne, who stepped in to collaborate with Raphael. However, the collaboration was not working out and so Raphael stepped down. As a result, the majority of the album was produced by Kahne. Despite being panned upon its initial release, First Impressions has gathered a fondness amongst Strokes fans and also the band themselves – they love playing a lot of these songs live.


Poor First Impressions of Earth has always held a special place in my heart. Sure, it's a bit of a fucking mess for a good third of its whopping 52 minute runtime, but at least it's compellingly messy.

This album stands in a strange place for the Strokes, because it doesn't really sound like anything that came before it in their discography, or like anything from the two records that came after it. It has clearer and more modern production than Is This It or Room on Fire - especially in the vocals - but it doesn't have the 80's synth flourishes and erratic genre experiments that have come to define Angles and Comedown Machine. In addition, First Impressions of Earth is much longer than anything else in their discography, and the music and lyrics feel sometimes grim, other times bombastic, and even quite depressing at some points.

It is a common observation that from You Only Live Once through Vision of Division, this album is actually very strong, bold, and energetic. Each one of these songs is able to take the traditional Strokes song and expand its horizons through better production, more complex song structures, and tight and explosive performances by all five band members. Personally, I believe that any one of these six songs could qualify as top tier Strokes songs, and should really belong in the Strokes Hall of Fame along with other classics like The End Has No End or Someday. However, it is an even more common observation that after these six songs, First Impressions of Earth takes a gruesome and irredeemable nosedive that it never is truly able to recover from. I can agree with this, but only to a certain extent.

For anyone listening to this album for the first time, I'm sure that Ask Me Anything comes off as a huge left turn for anyone who is already familiar with the earlier portion of the Strokes discography. Julian Casablancas spends 3 minutes sloppily vocalizing against a cheesy mellotron waltz, and yes, it is here that he drops the now legendary "I've got nothing to say" line ad nauseam, which pretty much singlehandedly destroyed any chance that this album had at critical success. The bridge on this song is actually really beautiful though, and it never gets credit for that. If there is any major aspect that shoots this song in the foot - as well as many others on this very same album - it's the lyrics and vocals.

For example, the incredibly patchy middle section from Killing Lies to 15 Minutes, which essentially epitomizes the "hit or miss" phenomenon. Often times, these songs range from "incredible expansion of the Strokes sound without sacrificing their former strengths" to a complete mess that makes you ponder why some of these songs (or at least sections of them...) weren't just cut from the album tracklisting altogether. 15 Minutes, despite the presence of some questionable Casablancasisms, is a gorgeous waltz in its first half (musically speaking, not lyrically). However, as soon as the tempo increases and Casablancas increases his Casablancasisms by tenfold, the song loses track of itself and becomes a mess. Not to mention the extremely obnoxious and unnecessary outro section with Julian Casablancas literally screaming at the top of his lungs about how many notes it takes to make a scale (it's dependent on what country you live in!). Then, on the other end of the spectrum we have Killing Lies, which basically repeats itself into oblivion with not a single change in chord progression across its entire runtime. And Fear of Sleep? Yuck.

But then, we miraculously rise out of the clusterfuck of heavy progressive indie rock sludge to be greeted with some of the very best songs in the Strokes catalog, period. Although it is not easy competition, Ize of the World really does manage to take the cake for the best guitar solo in any Strokes song. Don't even think about saying You're So Right. Red Light continues the lasting tradition of great closers on every Strokes album, with cheerily bouncing rhythms and beautiful guitar and vocal melodies safely bringing First Impressions of Earth to a comfortable close.

So, was it really that bad? If anything, the album suffers from quality control and lazy track placement. Loading fourteen songs onto a Strokes album was never going to be a good idea, and I'm not really sure as to how it ended up happening anyways. Cut out Ask Me Anything, Killing Lies, Fear of Sleep and 15 Minutes, and you'd have a concise and punchy Strokes record that would not only match their first two albums in quality, but possibly even rise above them.

By: GhostShipInAStorm.

A1 You Only Live Once
A2 Juicebox
A3 Heart In A Cage
A4 Razorblade
A5 On The Other Side
A6 Vision Of Division
A7 Ask Me Anything
B1 Electricityscape
B2 Killing Lies
B3 Fear Of Sleep
B4 15 Minutes
B5 Ize Of The World
B6 Evening Sun
B7 Red Light

Mixed at Soundtrack Studios, NYC.
Killing Lies & Fear Of Sleep mastered at Gateway Mastering.
Management [at] Wiz Kid Management.

Album cover: “Ohne Titel” 1968 by Lothar Quinte, © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
Rear cover: “Mathematik der Intuition” (Hommage à Arp) by Günter Fruhtrunk, 1962 © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
You Only Live Once: Picture of lathanum aluminate by Professor Michael Davidson used by courtesy of Profesor Michael Davidson, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University. “Rocketship” from cover of Fantastic Story Magazine's Summer 1952 issue by Alex Schomburg, used courtesy of The Schomburg Estate.
Heart In A Cage: “The Brain” by Henry Groskinsky, © Henry Groskinsky.
Razorblade: “Scout” by Richard Phillips, used courtesy of Richard Phillips.
On The Other Side: Samuel van Hoogstraten, Les pantoufles The Slippers. Louvre, Paris, France. Photo ©: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY. The Pieta of Saint-Germain-Des-Pres, Master of Saint-Germain-Des-Pres, Ca.1500. Louvre, Paris, France. Photo ©: Hervé Lewandowski/Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, The Flayed Ox, 1655. Louvre, Paris, France. Photo ©: Gerard Blot/Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. Guido da Siena (13th Ce), Nativity. Louvre, Paris, France. Photo ©: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.
Vision Of Division: Superstudio, © The Continuous Monument: St. Moritz Revisited, Project. Perspective, 1969. Cut-and-pasted printed paper, color pencil, and oil stick on board, 16 7/8 X 19 1/8. Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/License by Scala/Art Resource, NY.
Ask Me Anything: Music Notes & Yellow Room by Milton Glaser, used courtesy of Milton Glaser.
Electricityscape: Image #BB1863 by John Foxx, used courtesy of
Killing Lies: Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925: Paris, France) Etoffe & tapis etrangers. Plate 19. Artist: Benigno Crespi. Photo ©: The New York Public Library/Art Resource.
Fear Of Sleep: West 83rd St., New York City, 1996, photo by Jeff Prant, used courtesy of Jeff Prant.
15 Minutes: “Loew's Paradise Theater” by Henry Groskinsky, © Henry Groskinsky.
Ize Of The World: Gun Barrel Eyes image by Milton Glaser, used courtesy of Milton Glaser.
Red Light: Leopard, 1967 by Mel Ramos, © Mel Ramos/Licensed By Vaga, New York.