Revised: First Impressions of Earth
March 25th 2011
"You've really hurt our feelings, Shag."
Angles, the fourth Strokes record, is really bad. The songs are overworked and slightly desperate in their desire to sound like other bands, and Julian’s melodies are so phoned-in it’s like he wants the record to be a failure (to serve his bandmates right for wanting more creative input).
So what now? Although it sucks that the band that practically invented contemporary indie/wearing skinny jeans (which, I guess tellingly, people are now shying away from) dropped the ball so dramatically, there is an upside: it makes their third record, First Impressions of Earth (FIOE), seem less shit.
In fact, far from being “less shit”, it’s actually pretty good! It’s still too long; in a recent interview a couple of band members admitted they had originally planned to cull two to three songs from the final track list. But in this case, “too long” is just a judicious edit (watch me use that phrase in every subsequent iteration of this column) away from “acceptable part of The Strokes canon”.
Now despite being so candid about their relative failures, The Strokes don’t actually mention which tracks they wanted to cut from FIOE. I’m guessing none from the first half. ‘You Only Live Once’, ‘Juicebox’, ‘Heart In A Cage’ – what a dream start! When you consider that there isn’t a single classic Strokes song on Angles, the fact that FIOE begins with THREE is pretty amazing. But then there are 11 more songs. 11! Even The Strokes don’t want to hear 14 Strokes songs in a row.
So I did some research by spending some time with FIOE (such a martyr) and I’ve worked it out. You need to get rid of the following four songs from the second half: ‘Killing Lies’, ‘Fear of Sleep’, ‘15 Minutes’ (tracks 9-11. Coincidence?) and ‘Evening Sun’. Remember these? Of course you don’t. Once they’re exorcised, a leaner FIOE will be revealed:
‘You Only Live Once’
‘Heart In A Cage’
‘On The Other Side’
‘Vision Of Division’
‘Ask Me Anything’
‘Ize Of The World’
I love how now it’s split into two distinct sides. ‘Vision Of Division’ begins side B, ‘Ask Me Anything’ is now allowed to be an emotional peak rather than just a soft song that gets lost in the middle, and turns out ‘Red Light’ is a great song! Most importantly, the quality of the record (and The Strokes by extension) is given permission to shine without being choked by mediocrity.
PS: I appreciate the irony of writing about how a poorly received Strokes record can come good with time, while dissing a newer poorly received Strokes record. But honestly, have you heard Angles?