Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'm thinking that now is a good time to take my first crack at reviewing some 2006 albums. I'll start with the year's first highly anticipated release.

The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth

It seems that most people are at least mildly disappointed with this album. Count me among the majority. Don't get me wrong, it has its moments, but it's more than a slight drop-off from 2003's Room on Fire, which was a slight drop-off from their 2001 debut Is This It. This one does, however, owe much less of a debt to The Velvet Underground than the latter, but, in this case, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Overall, there's enough enjoyable material here to be only slightly disappointing, and there are a few gems, including the album-opening "You Live Only Once" and the hook laden closer, "Red Light". In between, we get the album's strongest track...the "Mandy"-inspired "Razorblade", with its "My feelings are more important than yours" refrain providing us with the opportunity to reminisce of Barry Manilow crooning, "Oh Mandy, you came and you gave without taking", with just a little more edge.

Unfortunately, most of what falls between "Razorblade", the disc's fourth track, and "Red Light" are tediously boring songs that are standard guitar based garage rock, although far more polished than what we've heard from this band before, and with far too few really great hooks. Maybe I'm being too harsh here, because in reality, after a couple of beers, many of these songs amazingly transform from mediocre to pretty good. In fact, my real beef with most of these songs is that they tease me by starting out a bit catchy, but later prove to be not inspired or interesting enough to hold my attention.

The lowlights of the aforementioned stretch of tedium include the organ based "Ask Me Anything", which would be more appropriately called by its much repeated refrain "I've Got Nothing to Say", and the album's most boring guitar rocker, "Fear of Sleep", in which we get to hear lead singer Julian Casablancas repeatedly exclaim "You're no fun!"...my sentiments exactly, about this song in particular, and this album in general.