Sound — 9
First Impressions Of Earth is to hit number one in the UK album charts this weekend and deservedly so. The album not only signifies a return to form for The Strokes, but also a development in their sound and musical direction. First Impressions... is a logical expansion upon previous albums and their sound, however, it doesn't prove to be as progressive as I expected. The production has produced as lo-fi a sounding album as the previous two, however Nick Valensi has been allowed to add riffs and licks which would have sounded out of place on Room On Fire and Is This It? Amongst the fairly different sounding material is mixed some reasonably standard Strokes stuff. Songs such as Killing Lies and Evening Sun could easily fit with the sound of Is This It? On first listen the two I just mentioned seemed to be filler on an otherwise daring album, but they certainly grow on you. Surprisingly the more adventurous and 'progressive' material has a little less lifespan than you would think. The guitars are very much in keeping with what you expect from the strokes, very clean and 'accurate'. However this album allows Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi to add there considerable talent and colour to the songs. I'd still personally buy Is This It? over First Impressions... if I were to choose on the guitar alone, purely because the guitars compliment the songs near perfectly. First Impressions... comes close in this sense, but generally the sound of the album doesn't quite match up to The Strokes first release.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically the album is very much in the same territory as the previous two. Songs such as Juicebox are more direct and to the point, making the subject matter a bit easier to understand. This was somewhat lacking from Room On Fire and is definitely a positive feature of Julian's writing this time around. Comparatively the lyrical material seems to be darker and certainly had an impact of me. Lyrics such as "I'm tired of everyone I know, of everyone I see, on the street and on TV" are an asset to the album. It may be taxing at times trying to figure out what Julian's actually singing, but this album is my favourite of the three Strokes releases, lyrically. In some ways the real progression is in a lyrical sense. However the delivery of the lyrics is much the same as you hear on Is This It? and Room On Fire, but changing that would be taking away the character Jules adds to Strokes songs.
Overall Impression — 8
First of all, First Impressions Of Earth is a very good album, and a logical progression from The Strokes. It far surpasses Room On Fire but doesn't really come close to topping Is This It? however if it had achieved the latter there would be a case for it being named best album of the decade. There are a number of truly great songs, which are incredibly written on the album. Yet as an album there is a feeling that the songs begin to weaken as the album draws to a close. This is redeemed by Electricityscape and Ize Of The World which are two of the best Strokes songs I've heard (the latter being my favourite song of the strokes pretty expansive collection). There are a number of great guitar tracks on First Impressions..., however if you're new to them I'd still go for their debut. The album leaves me with the feeling that there is a lot to come from the band and that I've bought an album that'll keep me entertained for a long time to come. First Impressions... is one of those must buy albums, just don't expect it to be incredibly different to what you've heard before from them. This is 52 minutes of great stuff, it's not another Is This It? but it's definitely satisfied me.