By Gabriela Solis
Released right at the cusp of 2005, First Impressions of Earth is rock band The Strokes’ third studio album. Considering this album single-handedly kicked off my angsty teen years, I can’t help but hold First Impressions of Earth near and dear to my heart. Full of pessimistic lyrics and rough instrumentation, this album is the perfect piece to blast alone in your car.
The second track, “Juicebox,” starts off with a remarkable bass line that was originally borrowed from the theme song for the 1950’s TV show Peter Gunn. The band’s frontman and musical genius Julian Casablancas describes the song as “crazy” and “schizophrenic,” and I couldn’t find a better way to describe it myself. Many fans initially thought this song was a joke, but I personally fell in love with its deep and dark sound as soon as I first heard it.
The next track, “Heart In a Cage,” is an angsty song that I loved as a teenager. It begins with an impressive guitar riff from Albert Hammond Jr., and is full of resentment, like most of the songs in First Impressions of Earth. Casablancas sings of purposely excluding himself from popular norms with, “I don’t want what you want, I don’t feel what you feel.” He also sings of feeling lonely and paranoid with the line, “all our friends, they’re laughing at us, all of those you loved, you mistrust.”
The next track, “Razorblade,” was and perhaps always will be, my favorite Strokes song, solely because of its iconic lyrics; the guitar riff, of course, is another factor. The chorus is catchy and very fun to sing along to, with its line, “oh no, my feelings are more important than yours. Drop-dead, I don’t care, I won’t worry.” Perhaps my favorite part of the song, however, is the bridge, in which Casablancas sings in the most beautifully sarcastic tone, “sweetheart, your feelings are more important, of course.” This song is definitely one that I’ll personally never get tired of and can listen to at any given time, no matter what my mood is.
Like “Juicebox,” the next song “On The Other Side” also has a memorable bass line. Even more so than “Razorblade,” the lyrics in this song are incredibly iconic and extremely relatable to my teenage self. Similar to “Heart In a Cage,” Casablancas sings of feeling alienated.
While “On The Other Side” is already pretty sad on its own, it’s even sadder if you know about Casablancas’ past struggle with alcoholism. Lines like, “I’ll drink even more, I’ll hate them even more than I did before,” and, “I’m tired of being so judgemental of everyone,” make you sympathize for Casablancas and really signify just how unhappy he was while recording this album. However, it’s relieving to know that he’s maintained sobriety for a while now and even said in an interview with Noisey, “I wish I could go back and do it all sober so I could really just savor everything.”
The next track, “Visions of Division,” contains the band’s most impressive guitar solo, played by the talented Albert Hammond, Jr. After that is “Ask Me Anything,” which I have a great appreciation for, due to the cello sound from a Mellotron and the irony of the lyrics. Casablancas repeats, “I’ve got nothing to say,” although the rest of the song proves otherwise. With interesting lyrics, like “don’t be a coconut,” this song is hard to forget.
The last two songs, “Evening Sun” and “Red Light,” are softer than the other songs on the album; they’re very refreshing to hear and a nice cool-down after 40 minutes of angry noise. “Red Light” is the album’s most welcoming tune. It’s contrastingly catchy and upbeat, with cute lyrics, such as, “all the girls could never make me love them the way I love you” and, “I was waiting for my baby to arrive right by my side.” Despite the song ending so suddenly and the cliffhanger of the last line, “the sky is not the limit and you’re never gonna guess what is,” the album still manages to somehow end on an optimistic note.
As much as I deeply love First Impressions of Earth and despite the bittersweet nostalgic feeling that it gives me, I find myself much more attracted to its first half and often skip each song after “Vision of Division” until I reach “Red Light.” Full of self-deprecation and anger, this album is not necessarily an easy listen, but it’s still an excellent compilation of The Strokes at their loudest.
Even though it’s arguably not The Strokes’ cleanest release, First Impressions of Earth was the band’s first release to reach number one on any chart worldwide and is surely an ideal album to listen to when you’re feeling moody.
Featured Image by James Bellisini