Who will die first?
Riff Raff Hears the New Strokes Album, Lives to Tell About It
Last night promo cats debuted NYC-based rock quintet the Strokes‘ forthcoming album, First Impressions Of Earth, to a select group of Black + White inter-drunks. Some of us drank Harp and presumably had a pretty good time; others drank Guinness and spent three or so hours throwing up afterwards because apparently Guinness is supposed to taste like fucking soy sauce.
A lot of the songs that have leaked–“Juicebox,” “You Only Live Once,” “Razor Blade” and so on–are, in fact, the songs on the record, not part of some brilliant rock&roll conspiracy to record a shitty album and release it on the internet to “fool” fans. Really sorry I told you that was the case.
The album is 14 songs long, and pretty standard issue despite the earlier buzz that this was going to be some bizarre departure from the band’s efficient post-Velvet lightning. That’s no knock–but sometimes I wonder what it would be like if the Strokes deviated a little from their surefire formula. As the songs played, I had a few ideas for how the Strokes could (believe it or not) make their songs a little cooler. What if the album was a little bit crazier? What if the tracks were just Jerky Boys-style prank calls the band members made on each other and close family friends? Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
01 “You Only Live Once”
Lead singer Julian Casablancas prankcalls the band’s bassist Nikolai Fraiture and keeps screaming “you only live once” over and over for five hours, alternating between English and Fraiture’s native French, and occasionally just screaming incoherently. The final time Casablancas screams, there is a bit of a question in his voice, as if to say, “…or do you?” Fraiture, who thinks this is just a rhetorical question, starts crying.
Casablancas calls the Hi-C company and asks, “Do you have juice in a box?” The company man says yes. “Well you better let it out!” Julian snickers. “Do you mean drink it?” the man asks. Julian says yes.
03 “Heart In A Cage”
Pretending to be a doctor, drummer Fabrizio calls a deathly sick Nikolai Fraiture and tells him he has found him a heart in a cage. Fraiture, who is awaiting a heart transplant, is overjoyed and orders Fabrizio to bring the heart immediately. When Fabrizio arrives, he is carrying a bird cage covered in a black veil, behind which Fraiture assumes is his new heart. Fraiture pulls back the veil, but instead of a heart there is just a VHS cassette tape with 1999 footage of WWF’s Owen Hart, dying in a cage match.
06 “Vision of Division”
Casablancas calls his old math professor from college and starts screaming into the phone that he is having visions of division. The professor suggests he see a doctor, but Casablancas does not understand. “But I thought you were a doctor!” It should be noted that Casablancas’s math professor only has his masters degree.
Fraiture calls Fabrizio about something he “heard on the news”: If you talk to someone on a cell phone when you are within three feet of that person, there is a weird electrical current that courses each person and it is sort of like drinking a Sparks. The call ends when Fraiture and Fabrizio try this and nothing happens.
11 “15 Minutes”
This is an excerpt from a prank call from 2001 called “56 Minutes,” which featured Casablancas recording the entirety of his debut album Is This It? as his voicemail greeting.
14 “Red Light”
This is a prank call Fabrizio pulls on Casablancas, who while driving around Manhattan accidentally picks up his cellphone and talks to Fabrizio–a no-no in New York City which gets Casablancas pulled over by the cops. The “red light” stands for both the red police lights and the special prank call light Fabrizio turns on whenever he makes prank calls.