First impressions of Earth? It sucks unbearably so. The problem being that, of all the things that become the Strokes undeniable hooks, celebrity girlfriends, cheekbones to die for, etc. desperation isnt one of em. And after the lackluster sales of 2003s underrated Room on Fire, the bands third album is little more than a painfully misguided grasp at relevance. If theres any doubt the Strokes want to ingratiate themselves to Middle America now that their hipster cachet has faded, look no further than the presence of producer David Kahne (Sugar Ray, Sublime), who flattens the bands sound into a nondescript, dude-rock din clearly intended for mass consumption. Kahne isnt entirely to blame for Earths crappiness, however, as even he cant be expected to polish turds like the lead single Juicebox, typical of the albums relentless mediocrity, and the boring, Barry Manilow-biting Razorblade. Nothing here even remotely rivals the catchiness of Last Nite, 12:51 or Kelly Clarksons Since U Been Gone a better Strokes song than anything actually by the Strokes leaving fans to wonder if, in trying to expand its audience, the band forgot why anyone listened in the first place. You cant blame the Strokes for establishing a new direction for themselves; its just too bad, especially given how hard theyre trying, that theyre headed down the shitter.
Jimmy Draper writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].