Opener "Machu Picchu" starts strong, with Casablancas singing startlingly high and the guitarists laying down reggae-influenced lines during the verses; keep in mind that it was penned by Valensi. Next up is "Under Cover of Darkness," the album's first single. Upon its release, it was seen as a return to form by some and was criticized by others for retreading ground that they had already covered with their first album. It certainly strikes similarities with the style of Is This It, which makes sense given the fact that it was written by the entire band as a whole. It's chock-full of catchy guitar riffs and has a huge chorus, although they decide to change the tempo a bit with a slower Valensi solo. It's the point on the album when The Strokes sound most like The Strokes, and I consider it a highlight.
Third on the album is "Two Kinds of Happiness," which features a chorus far more intense than the verses, and some freaked-out sounding guitar parts. After that, we hear the B-side "You're So Right," penned by bassist Nikolai Fraiture. It is the most experimental moment on the album, and certainly steps further in the direction that First Impressions of Earth hinted at, with very futuristic-sounding electronic parts. Fifth on the album is the Valensi-penned "Taken For A Fool," which was performed on David Letterman a few days after its release. It is a definite highlight on the album, garnering praise even from the most negative reviews of the album. It has a sort of LA showtime vibe to it, and features funky verses that retain the signature Strokes sound while experimenting. The LA part makes sense because Valensi spent a lot of time there while the band were on hiatus, and being the only member who did not start a side project, it seems that he saved some good ideas for The Strokes, such as this. It works perfectly.