The Strokes have enjoyed too charmed an existence to justify their turn from crafting garage-flavored party-rock to garage-heavy diatribes against fame and fortune, but here they are, cynical and angst-ridden on First Impressions of Earth. And clearly that’s by design. Determined to broaden their sound after the carbon-copy successes of Is This It? and Room on Fire, Julian Casablancas and company have ditched longtime producer Gordon Raphael (on all but three tracks) for Sugar Ray mastermind David Kahne. The result is the quintet’s most rousing, emotionally revealing effort to date, with Casablancas finally losing his calculated cool against a background of typically meticulous riffs and frenetic melodies. “Today they’ll talk about us,” he bellows on the not-so-subtly-titled “15 Minutes.” “Tomorrow they won’t care.” Maybe, but if First Impressions is any indication, there’s plenty of reason to care. Hell, things are just getting interesting.
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