Sound — 8
The reviews for The Stroke's third album have so far been mixed. Some say it's the worst album they've done yet, others that they're begginning to advance in terms of songwriting. Well this review is like those others: it's mixed. The CD starts out strong with the simple upbeat "You Only Live Once" which features some nice drumming. It continues its winning streak with the faster-paced "Juicebox" and by the time the amazing solo-like riff in "Heart In A Cage" comes on you realize it is one of the best songs on the album if not the best, and probably will be remembered years later. "Razorblade" also has a very cool riff that carries the song as well as nicely smooth vocals. "On The Other Side" has a cool bassline, interlude and atmospheric chorus. "Vision Of Division" shows few signs of weakness with fast riffs and good beats and rhythms (and nice sitar solo), but lacks the copiuos appeal of the earlier 5 tracks (though it's still an excellent song) and foreshadows a decline in songwriting for the bigger portion of the album's latter half. By the time "Ask Me Anything" comes into the speakers you wonder where the cool riffs and rythyms went and why on here they've been replaced by the never-changing simple and sometimes annoying keyboard notes. The song is sometimes relaxing, but it's not amazingly well done. Luckily "Elecrticityscape" quickly makes you forget that little dissapointment with atmospheric sounds and all around good instrumentals (even though the solo is unneccesary), only for the album to remind you about dissapointment with the same slow riff repeated throughouth the entirety of "Killing Lies" (plus a solo sounding uncannily similar to the one in "Electricityscape"). Again, like "Ask Me Antything," the song's not terrible but it's nothing special either. "Fear Of Sleep" is love it or hate it and I love it for its cool sleepy-but-hip riffs and cool-sounding pre-chorus and it begins the process of picking the album's songwriting glory up again. "15 Minutes" starts out slow but gets faster at the end. It is annoying at first, but picks up in the middle and becomes a pretty good song. And when we arrive close to the album's end, track 12 or "Ize Of The World" finally echoes the excellence in quality of the first six tracks and "Electricityscape" with an outer space style sound and a wonderfully fast starry chorus riff complete with another great rythm and beat. Unfortunately almost immediately after we get back to the top quality music, "Evening Sun" puts those listening to ease or sleep but certainly not excitement. Again it isn't terrible but definitely skippable. The album ends with a cool and quality song that has good beat and rhythm to boot and the drumming is simply excellent but compared to tracks like "Razorblade" and "You Only Live Once" it sounds a bit empty. And with this the album ends not dissapointingly but with the listener knowing the album fell a bit short of being truly great.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on the album are sometimes deep and insightful, sometimes meaningless but fun, and often depressed. Much like today's society. 01. You Only Live Once - has insightful lyrics about the millions of ways to live one's life and ranges from subject matter such as criticizing organized religion as not mattering which you choose because each is just "one stubborn way to turn your back" to the less rebellious idea of men being easier to please than women. 02. Juicebox - repeats the phrase "you're so cold" while trying to get a lost love who misses the way she saw the singer to "come over here" and appreciate the city without complicated relationship issues. 03. Heart In A Cage - is a song in which the singer feels trapped behind the bars brought about by a break-up, claiming the singer is "stuck in a city but [he belongs in a field]" and that unlike many others just fucking around doesn't make him feel better, possibly because he wants for something deeper. 04. Razorblade - metaphorically compares the song title's deadly object to the concept of love, also claiming that love is extremely complicated sometimes and sometimes not, and that each spouse in a relationship is more self-loving than in love. 05. On The Other Side - has depressing lyrics that are about drinking and hatred and as a result of drinking even more hatred and can drag down an otherwise catchy song too. Luckily the interlude and chorus are free of too much of that same bitterness. 06. Vision Of Division - looks at the singer's want to have his girlfriend alone with him rather than with friends he can't stand. 07. Ask Me Anything - has bitterly sarcastic lyrics about how summer camps were named after hostile indians and soldiers were named after harmless children. Too bad after the controversial sarcasm stops it gets replaced by the words "I've got nothing to say" being repeated to the point of insanity. Also, depressed lyrics about feeling worthless. 08. Electricityscape - is about an ashamed person leaving old friends for fame and stardom. 09. Killing Lies - is about having to go through trouble to get what you want being a fact of life. 10. Fear Of Sleep - is about what the song title suggests: the singer being afraid of sleep due to the drunkards who have found out where he is sleeping. 11. 15 Minutes - is about how 15 minutes of fame is a lot like the life we have here on earth and a hidden qoute on the lyric sheet (see "overall impression" section) states that both are dreams and in both people share you in different ways. 12. Ize Of The World - is about apathy of modern life and features many words that ryhme because they all end with the suffix "-ize." 13. Evening Sun - is about the abuse of power and how much we are attracted to it. 14. Red Light - is both about the singer being in love and willing to wait for whenever his girlfriend is ready to take the relationship further and a farce on modern society saying "do it for the people that have died for your sake, an entire generation with nothing to say" or basically that US soldiers defended our freedom only to have what was once a great nation hesitate and even sometimes move backwards due to ridiculous "political correctness." As for the vocals the singer needs to stay inside his range so his attempt at louder singer doesn't make his voice crack.
Overall Impression — 8
Despite the fact I am giving this album an 8 out of 10, I enjoyed it as a 9 out of 10 due to the good outweighing the bad and being much better than more radio-friendly crap. However, The Strokes still have kinks to work out at least on this album and while I thought it was great only a few songs are good enough to be remembered years later (unlike the previous sections, the tracks are not in order this time). Songs like "You Only Live Once," "Razorblade," "On The Other Side," and "Red Light" (to a close extent, anyway) display an excellence in songwriting and musical efficiency while being slower but edgy and well-done enough that they seem upbeat and fast, while songs like "Juicebox," "Heart In A Cage," "Vision Of Division," "Electricityscape" and "Ize Of The World" are monumentally good or at least have excellent quality with fast riffs and lovely playing. "Fear Of Sleep" isn't quite great but its definitely pretty good with its cool atmosphere. "15 Minutes" doesn't quite suggest a high amount of quality but definitely rises above the boring and repetive skippability that is "Ask Me Anything" and "Evening Sun." One of the cool things about the album is the way every page of the lyrics sheet has a hidden qoute for each song as well as distinguished artwork. For instance on the page with the lyrics to "Ize Of The World," next to the boy with cannons for eyes there is a 20th century fox-esque logo for the track's title. On the topmost part of the letter I's emergence is writtenin tiny print: "can our minds ever evolve to become something more than an extension of our animal needs?" Despite its shortcomings, this is the best album I have heard in a long time, and good or bad it's definitely clear the band is doing what it wants with its music. That's the beauty of indie rock.