You can’t be the life of the party forever. When that realization hits the majority of rock stars, the results are either intriguing or damned near depressing. In The Strokes’ case, this revelation is met, true to form, with casual indifference. Indeed, if First Impressions of Earth is any indication, Julian Casablancas’s mortality appears to be weighing heavily upon him these days. While pondering a topic of that magnitude is certainly admirable, the members of The Strokes come across as so colossally (and typically) uninterested that any insight gained is squashed beneath 52 minutes of reliably louche and vocally de-fuzzed rock. First Impressions is Is This It? and its slavishly formulaic follow-up Room On Fire all over again, two albums which met with critical favor but did nothing to advance the band creatively. First Impressions introduces some subtle new colors to the band’s musical palette (most notably in “Ask Me Anything” and “15 Minutes”) but the pervasive sense of inert boredom, which has been noted as a strength in the past, is difficult to shake. Even more frustrating, glimpses of what could’ve been appear often enough (“You Only Live Once,” “Electricityscape”) to make the whole experience exasperating. Gone is the acerbic tension that marked The Strokes as forefathers of the East Coast rock resurgence—in its place, a shrugging weariness that feels, on this third record, like the band stopped giving a shit three years ago.
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