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The Strokes

First Impressions of Earth (RCA)

The Strokes are the Chipotle of modern rock. Sure, there's better, more authentic stuff out there, but when it comes down to it, all the basic ingredients are done just right and delivered in one tight, delicious package. Likewise, there are bands that are less affected in their posturing and that put more thought into their neo-garage noodling, but the Strokes reliably sweat out droopy-eyed, well-crafted tracks ever ready to crash on radio's couch. Though there are moments when the material takes a directional shift -- such as the pounding, "Hash Pipe"-esque bass line on "Juicebox" or the guitar histrionics borrowed from Bill & Ted on "Vision of Division" -- First Impressions of Earth is a Strokes album through and through. Elsewhere, songs like "Heart in a Cage," which has Julian Casablancas howling through a fog on what is easily one of the boys' best songs to date, and the excellent "On the Other Side" pull the album back toward the Strokesian oeuvre by doing what the act does best: mining ebullience from self-loathing. And you don't even have to pay extra for guac.

 
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