In fact, as the hype around Big Apple groups fades, so does the Strokes' appeal -- or so it seems from the laborious, overly long First Impressions of Earth. Instead of coked-up tempos and sloppy rock rhythms, Earth contains middle-speed songs that pilfer -- and render bland -- ideas from heavy-metal guitar solos, Muse's driving wall-of-prog, U2's back catalog, and corrugated dance-punk. Julian Casablancas' lyrics, while never substantial, feel particularly empty this time, thanks to an overwhelming sense of paranoia (and fear of/disgust with big cities). Heck, on Earth's burbling highlight "Ask Me Anything," the Rufus Wainwright-channeling Casablancas even keeps repeating the phrase, "I've got nothing to say." Sadly prophetic, that.