This is so marvelous I can’t describe how happy it makes me. Ever since First Impressions of Earth made it feel like the Strokes had left the Earth as opposed to just joining it, it’s been an oddly dark time of waiting. Waiting and re-trying. I would every once in a while put the record on and try, TRY to like it, but it was so scattershot that I just couldn’t do it. My mind warped in a thousand directions and the unbalanced EQ with squeaky guitars doing opposing lines and barely harmonizing while Julian warbled just turned me off – or rather, turned me back to Is This It? and Room On Fire to remember why I liked them in the first place. With the exception of “You Only Live Once” and “Ask Me Anything”, which I still think is beautiful and sad, I barely give it a chance anymore.
When Julian released a much-touted solo album last year, I bought it on my birthday at Best Buy in Cleveland and blasted it all the way through in my rented Mini Cooper. I knew the lead single from Stereogum, and was pleased. But alas, the rest of the album fell into the First Impressions… trap, only this time there were synthesizers and polyrhythms. Where was Fraiture and Valenci, Moretti, and Hammond, Jr. (names that I somehow still have memorized from years of adolescence Rolling Stone magazine absorbing) when I needed them?
They were here, holed up in a gaudy opera hall with the tuxedos to match. From the opening beat, to the reverbless jangle of the dueling guitar parts, revealed to be white Fenders subtley augmenting each other in their Tele/Strato differences, I was hooked and in love and feeling 19 again. I want to believe the enjoyment isn’t pure nostalgia (especially since culturally I don’t feel that removed from 2002, certainly not the way someone in 2002 would have felt removed from who they were in 1993), though it certainly plays a part. This is the missing 3rd album, taking the charm and joy from Is This It? and the musical interplay from Room On Fire and smoothing out the edges to create the best of both worlds. Enjoy it as I did, marvel at how cool the leather jacket is, and anticipate the full album as 1,145,674 other people have in just under 2 weeks.