The First Impressions of Earth era is my favourite period of The Strokes.
It was a great time to be a fan of the band – from the end of 2005 when the band first started promoting the record until October 2006 when they concluded their tour and then went on an unbearable hiatus. They toured a whole lot and it was a proper tour not just the occasional festival headline slot but a world tour and playing all kinds of venues. They also did a lot of press and instead of the interviews being fraught or publications playing up uneasiness within the band, they were fun and insightful.
So it was a good time to be a fan and First Impressions of Earth brought with it a different sound for the band in many ways. It was also the first time other members of the group were credited for co-writing some of the songs and along with Phrazes For The Young has my favourite lyrics by Julian.
You Only Live Once – A huge crowd favourite when played live I always thought they should have released this as the first single and given it the attention it deserved. It is an insanely catching song and I never tire of it. What is also great is the album version is terrific but also the stripped down demo version I’ll Trying Anything Once from the Heart In A Cage single is just tremendous.
Juicebox – Having said that YOLO should have been the first single I cannot deny the sheer pleasure of hearing Juicebox for the first time. This song gets the blood pumping and showcased the band’s slighter heavier sound that is present across many tracks on the record.
Heart In A Cage – When I mentioned my love of Julian’s lyrics on this album HIAC was one of the songs I was thinking about. “See I’m stuck in a city, but I belong in a field” is simple but beautiful. Whilst Nick’s guitar solo just rocks into my heart.
Razorblade – I cannot help but feel a little bitter by some of the reviews which compared this song to Mandy by Barry Manilow. I mean I can hear the comparison but I feel like Julian took it to heart and Razorblade never gets played live as much as it should.
On The Other Side – I get the sense this isn’t a huge fan favourite but I’ve always like the honesty of the lyrics. FIOE is the first album after Julian became sober and he sounds so open and raw on tracks like this.
Vision of Division – The riff, the solo, the dueling lyrics between two people. I just love this song so much. Sometimes I wish the band post-FIOE had gone for a heavier sound because it works so well on songs like this.
Ask Me Anything– At the time this song was the most un-Strokes track, I think it took many by surprise, performed by Julian and Nick, its simple but very effective. I always love it when they play it live.
Electricityscape– I have many songs by the band which remind me of certain things, FIOE but Electricityscape in particular makes me recall a wonderful trip to France I took in May 2006, where my friend Julie drove a few of us around and we had FIOE on repeat in the car. It was Electricityscape we all loved and probably listened to far too often. What a song.
Killing Lies and Fear of Sleep– One of the criticisms I often see about FIOE is that it is too long and at 52 minutes it is the longest record the band have released so far. Some suggest a few songs could have been cut like Killing Lies and Fear Of Sleep but I have to say that would be a tragedy. I cherish all the tracks from this album.
15 Minutes – I’m always a fan of songs which build up. This is why I love 15 Minutes, the first 2 minutes and 10 seconds are Julian doing his best Shane MacGowan from The Pogues impression and then song just explodes and the joy is let in.
Ize Of The World – My favourite song by The Strokes changes depending on my mood but Ize Of The World is always in the Top 5. It is a masterpiece. I don’t really need to say anything else
Evening Sun– This is such a sweet little song which makes me think of endless summer nights and a long forgotten youth. Also it was co-written by Fab and I always think Fab is underrated as an artist, when you hear his Little Joy work as well as Evening Sun there is something to be said about make simple but effective music that goes for the heart.
Red Light – The Strokes always have a talent for great final tracks and Red Light continues that trend. “Oh, the sky’s not the limit and your never gonna guess what is..”