There are those who thought the Strokes first album was a fluke, second album was an attempt at repeating it and third album was an abortion nailed to the wall as art. I disagree on all three.
Is This It was the sound of a band using everything they loved about music to make it their own. Maybe it's because I so fully fell in love with it, but that album is still great in every way. Prior to September 11, there was a detachment that those of us who came of age in the late 90s had used as a way of life. Cynicism, boredom and waiting. Example: the ridiculously unexplained chaos of Woodstock '99, which fittingly closed a decade that, while great for America in charging forward, went quickly from sincere-in-everything to rape-everything-for-cash somewhere around, oh, I don't know, 1997. Or maybe it's just always been that way and I was just too young to notice until now.
Room On Fire took a few steps forward, but pretty clearly existed in a similar space because while we said that everything changed after September 11, we all kept doing the same bull shit once the shock faded. "The room is on fire, and she's fixing her hair," Casablancas sang on "Reptilia." Everybody hated the album because it was a reflection of themselves, and nobody really cared or did anything about it.
By the time First Impressions of Earth hit, most were over The Strokes because critics, many of whom nailed the band for not remaking themselves the way The White Stripes did with every album (ahem, they didn't, and stayed brilliant for it), ignored the record. That third album was the sound of a band stretching a bit, and sounding ready for a break, because despite the howls for them to do something new, nobody really wanted them to. First Impressions of Earth was also criminally underrated - again, mostly because nobody cared by the time it was released.
The rest of the band has been releasing efforts vaguely similar to the Strokes and Casablancas has pretty much faded from sight. Though he has occasionally teased about a new Strokes album (supposedly in early progress with recording due to begin early in 2010), he's also said there was a solo effort on the way. I didn't believe him until about an hour ago.
At this point, I can't remember the first single from Casablancas' forthcoming solo album. I know I downloaded it. I know I listened to it several times and probably enjoyed it. But it is no longer in my iTunes and I'm not even in the mood to look for it online. I just stumbled upon the glitchy, soaring, loud-guitars-and-drum-n-bass leak of the second single "River of Brakelights." The familiar drawl is there, but he is "getting the hang of it." There is an urgency here. One that can be found buried in each of the Strokes first three albums but which plays front and center here and works really, really well.
Julian Julian Julian. I don't know if anybody will get it this time man, but I'm right there with you. You're pushing forward while many others stay glued to the ground. "Timing is everything," indeed.