First Impressions of Earth RCA
Music •••½ Sound •••½
The youthful Strokes have had a growth spurt on the way to their third CD, where they indulge their inner U2 without sacrificing the jittery, racing pulse that made them seem like rock saviors in 2001. There's some wildly expressive guitar all over "You Only Live Once" - and especially "Vision of Division," with a solo that sounds like the Yardbirds having a Greek-bouzouki raveup. You won't hear a better bass line this year than the one on "Jukebox," which also benefits from drummer Fab Moretti's double backbeat. Variations in tone, tempo, and texture keep things interesting. There are a few lapses - this would've made a better album at 10 tracks instead of 14 - and it's dismaying to hear Julian Casablancas whine, "I'm tired of everyone I know / And everyone I see." But mostly, First Impressions of Earth is like a thrillingly out-of-control cab ride along Manhattan's wild side at the witching hour.