First Impressions of Earth. Perhaps the most hyped of contemporary band" /> You Only Live Once by Strokes, The reviewed :: The Dwarf

The "saviours of rock 'n' roll" return with their third studio album First Impressions of Earth. Perhaps the most hyped of contemporary bands The Strokes continue to mine the rich history of New York rock. I love the music they refer to – Velvet Underground, Television, The Modern Lovers, New York Dolls etc and they do seem to add their own flavour to the music: narrowly escaping the trap of being a tribute band to an era or style. Plus that horrible nonchalance that only rich kids have is hideously attractive. The new album seems to be somewhat of a departure from their signature distorted vocals and driving clanging guitar – could the boys be growing up? Or maybe it's just that their record collection has expanded.


The third single ‘You Only Live Once' follows ‘Juicebox' – sounds like Iggy (try singing ‘The Passenger' along with it! – ‘cause you can.) and ‘Heart in a Cage'. There are some interesting changes in their sound - of the three singles ‘You Only Live Once' sounds most like the Strokes of old. It took a few listens for me to work out what it reminded me of….. then I realised – The Buzzcocks. Listen to ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)' and tell me if that riff isn't familiar.


There's something about The Strokes that asks a listener to work out who they are referencing and I don't know if that's necessarily clever but it works on me. I guess it's a way to introduce the kids to great music, but unless someone points that out, their music seems new and innovative. I'm not saying that they rip off other musicians but they do wear their sources on their sleeves. As I write this I'm listening to The Buzzcocks not The Strokes – perhaps a pitfall of reminding folk of music they love. I'm reluctant to stop walking down music memory lane now I'm here! It is a really fine line – being derivative vs referring to other music.


No doubt this single will sell heaps of units – it's well executed and damn catchy – after two listens it's like an old friend – or is it that I've missed The Buzzcocks? The sound of the new songs is a departure. The vocals are out in front with only little a distortion, which means you can hear the lyrics. Julian Casablancas has a great voice – easy and bored – a lethal combination. ‘You Only Live Once' is slower, a toe tapper but not a song that's easy to dance to. The sound is cleaner – not crisp but clear – as are the other two singles. Dammit I like it but as always with The Strokes I have to wonder if it's more that I like the music they like. When asked to comment on the third album, Julian said: "It's like a seedless watermelon. I like it".


If The Strokes sound derivative then enjoy it and revisit your old vinyl. If The Strokes sound new and exciting then explore some old punk rock – you'll love it!

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