Saturday, April 23, 2011
The Strokes are one of my favorite indie rock bands. I just recently got into them this year. Before then I was just a casual fan. I can remember my brother listening to their 1st album, "Is This It?", and that really stood out for me. I started to become a big fan a few months before this album was released. Now that does not mean I didn't have expectations. I actually had more expectations than you could imagine. One thing I was expecting is something better than their last album, "First Impressions Of Earth". I recieved that. This album was a huge step up from that album.
"Machu Picchu" is the first song on this album. This was a pretty cool way to open the album because it sounds a lot like their older material. This sounds like a band doing what they are good at and what they want to do. As you will read later on in this review, this whole album is not that way. I almost think using this as an opener gives us false hope the rest of the album will be stripped down like "Is This It?". Either way, It is still a really rad song.
"Under Cover of Darkness" is what really made me excited for this album. This is the first single off of this album and was released a month or two before the album's release. From my first listen of this song, I loved it. If you are a Strokes fan at all, you will enjoy this song. It has the same pop sound that their older stuff has. This reminds me of "Is This It?" more so than the last song. The guitar in this song is fantastic and always makes for a fun listen. One thing I do have to say. This song has a very different type of production than the rest of the album. It doesn't seem like it fits with these other songs at all.
The next song is "Two Kinds Of Happiness". This song sounds kind of like older new wave bands like The Cars or The Talking Heads. The verses are cool and catchy, but you can barely hear a word Julian is saying. Especially in the 2nd verse, it is very hard to hear what he is saying. And the chorus is just boring. I find it hard to listen to this song all the way through. Not because it is awful, just because it is a bit boring.
After that comes "You're So Right". This is the part of the album where you realize it is not what you expected. This song could use a lot of work. This song makes it seem like The Strokes are trying to be weird. When I say that, I put emphasis on trying. Being weird is not bad (It's actually good), trying to be weird makes you come across as being fake and just trying to be heard. This song is just a little too weird to listen to.
"Taken For A Fool" is the next song. This song really shows off Julian Casablancas's voice. That is what stood out for me. This and the extremely catchy chorus is what makes this song so awesome. I don't know if I am the only one feeling this, but in the chorus, I almost get a Gorillaz vibe. This is another song that actually sounds like the band doing what they want.
Next comes "Games". "Games" is an awesome song. It really shows their ability to be artistic, without pushing it (ex : "You're So Right", "Call Me Back", "Metabolism"). I think this song is an example of The Strokes being weird without trying to be. Once this song hits the halfway mark it gets even better. There is a very nice solo and the melodic synth continues. The synth is really the driving force behind this whole song. This is a perfect piece of modern art.
The weirdness continues with "Call Me Back". I, by no means, hate this song. I just think they pushed the limits a little bit with oddness of it. What I get out of the lyrics of this song is that the person speaking is in some sort of relationship and is curious of the partners feelings. He is trying to avoid asking the partner because of fear of rejection. Now, I am no genius so I could, very well, be wrong, but that's what I get out of it. And if that is the case, than the music fits it pretty good. It is a pretty dark song, and the whispered post-choruses add to the darkness. "Call Me Back" is a pretty good addition to the album. I always like listening to it.
Next comes "Gratisfaction". It is another great song. It is also refreshing because it is in the middle of a few strange tracks. This is not one of those tracks at all. This sounds just like you'd expect a Strokes song to sound like. It has a very happy vibe to it. It sounds like a party song, a song you can imagine listening to with all of your friends. I don't have much to say about this song. Just a good catchy song, nothing more, nothing less.
Here we go again with the strangeness. "Metabolism" sounds like it came straight from "First Impressions Of Earth". It has that darker more sinister feeling to it. This seems like a very relatable song about wanting to be something more important. Although, many may find this song to be hard to relate to because of how dark and depressing it sounds. Now, in my opinion, I think this is a fantastic concept for a song (a dark song about being unsatisfied with yourself), but the lyrics are awfully executed. They are very repetitive and lazy. This song actually would have been a stand out track if the lyrics weren't so amateurish, but because of them, it becomes one of the low points.
And now for the best of the album. "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight" shows Julian's true brilliance. This is poetry of a genius. To me (feel free to correct me if I am wrong), the song is about what the world and its inhabitants have become. About how, in modern thinking, getting through your daily routine and doing things just because "it is what everyone does" is what we think of as innocence, but we are oblivious of the fact that this makes us more guilty than comitting any crime. I think this is quite possibly my favorite Strokes song lyrically. It is beautifully illustrated poetry that has a messege I can totally get behind. Out of all the songs on this album, none of them stand a chance against this. I get lost in this song everytime I listen to it. The absolute perfect way to end this album.
Overall, I find myself listening to this album a lot. In all honesty, the variety of songs probably makes this my 2nd favorite Strokes record (behind "Is This It?"). I know during the review, I talked about the oddness as being bad, but I actually think that is what makes this album so damn fun to listen to. This is a very colorful album from start to finish. It certainly sounds like nothing The Strokes have released before and that is what makes it such an enjoyable listen. One complain I have is that Albert Hammond, Jr. is on it so little, his absence is actually very dissapointing. I think he may have been in rehab for the majority of the recording process, so that could be why he is barely present at all. Another complaint is that in a lot of the songs they made it so difficult to hear the vocals, but decided to leave the lyrics out of the notes in the cd. That was a really dumb decision in my eyes. In the end, I think it is safe to say that this is yet another fantastic release by The Strokes.
Highlights : Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Games, Life Is Simple In The Moonlight, and the guitars are very nice on this album
Music : 6 (Half of it is amazing, Half of it is alright. None of it is really bad)
Lyrics : 7 (Probably would be a 6 if it weren't for "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight")
Artwork : 8 (Colorful art for a colorful album. Also like how the credits are designed)
Overall : 7 (As an album, it works out pretty well)
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