When The Strokes first appeared, they were such the future-vision of pop music that every band emulated their sound and every rock kid emulated their style. I’ve always referred to these people as ‘Stroke Victims.’
During a recent visit to New York, I pointed out a gaggle of Stroke Victims approaching my friend Brian and me as we walked down Avenue B. As it turned out, the five hipsters were, in fact, the original Strokes, looking every bit as generic as the emulators who had co-opted them.
Through their short recorded history, The Strokes have had moments of mediocrity, insinuating that they had drowned in the brimming sea of hipster rock minimalism that they had themselves invented. What’s more, it had to be a mounting task to compete with their own debut; which, when compared to the sophomore Room on Fire release, seemed aptly named Is This It?
But fear not as The Strokes return with their charmed third album, First Impressions of Earth.
Julian (Casablancas) has clearly been working very hard on his powerfully humble and patient voice, often re-enforcing his New York-ness, channeling a Passenger-era Iggy Pop. Fab (Moretti) stretches the boundaries of his drumming to a new level; and Albert Hammond Jr., Nick Valensi and Nikolai Fraiture amount to one of the most gentle stringed triple threats in the industry, often making guitars sound like keys, as they did on much of Is This It?.
With First Impressions…, The Strokes utilize the minimalism with flawless attention to detail, which established them as a musical force when they first broke out. As a result, they clarify their position unquestionably outside of the hipster pop paradigm, while maintaining a very real name for themselves.
Indeed, the only thing The Strokes are selling out is every gig on their current tour.