In 2001, with the release of the Strokes' first album, Is This It, critics predicted that they would be the leaders of a new era of rock and roll, and for a while, they were right. The Strokes' repetitive yet undeniably catchy guitar riffs were nothing new to the music scene, but lead singer Julian Casablancas' reverberating vocals and self-proclaimed rock star persona were -- at least at the time. But four years and a few hundred copy-cat "The" bands later, the Strokes have lost a lot of their appeal. It's no surprise that the Strokes' characteristic style on their most recent album, First Impressions of Earth, isn't so characteristic anymore.

In order to set themselves apart from the rest of the tight-jean-wearing music community, the New York band makes a few too many changes on First Impressions, resulting in a mess of songs that don't fit together on an album. "Juicebox," the unimpressive first single off the new album, has the musical and lyrical simplicity of your dime-a-dozen pop-rock tracks, while "Ask Me Anything," which is even simpler and more repetitive, slows the pace of the album and has a mellow, electronic vibe that makes it a stick out like a sore thumb.

Though the Strokes do thankfully resemble the Strokes of yore on such tracks as "Electricityscape" and "15 Minutes," their shallow lyrics are becoming way too noticeable and their songs are obnoxiously self-referential. On "Ask Me Anything" Casablancas even confesses 16 times, "I've got nothing to say," forcing you to wonder how the group couldn't have come up with something more profound to say in the three years since its sophomore release, Room on Fire.

And though the Strokes have never been known for thought-provoking lyrics, the tight drum and guitar rhythm that they're known for will only attract listeners for so long before fans abandon them for newer groups with the total package. Thanks to drummer Fab Moretti and guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr., the Strokes haven't quite reached that point, but First Impressions of Earth does little to quell the fear that their music (like their short reign over this new era of rock) is on the downfall.


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