The Strokes
Comedown Machine


3.5
great

Review

by Sam McPherson USER (9 Reviews)
March 21st, 2013 | 30 replies | 5,080 views


Release Date: 03/26/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Comedown Machine doesn't see the Strokes reinventing the wheel, but it's a solid, catchy record with a few interesting deviations from their typical musical style.

14 of 15 thought this review was well written

It's unfair to expect that the Strokes will ever be able to match the greatness of their first album, 'Is This It'. Every subsequent effort they release will invariably be compared to it, with the verdict always, "Not as good." Of course, the comparison is always a little unfair. 'Is This It' was more than just a good album: it was a highly influential one, and with that comes expectations. Critical hyperbole ('the saviors of rock') followed, until it was discovered that the Strokes had no such lofty ambitions. Instead of meeting the expectations heaped upon them, they seemed perfectly content making albums of catchy, glossy pop rock. And because subsequent albums lacked such groundbreaking aspirations, critical reaction against the group soured, reaching an all-time low with the group's unfairly maligned 2011 LP, 'Angles' (a solid, short album that was certainly a step up from the excess of 2006's 'First Impressions of Earth').

'Comedown Machine,' the group's latest effort, will invariably be compared to 'Angles' as well. Some have already declared it far superior to its predecessor, but the truth is, the two are quite similar. If anything, 'Comedown Machine' is the slightly scruffier twin to 'Angles.' It has a similar length (the band have found their sweet spot at a little over half an hour), and it features a similar mix of catchy guitar tunes and introspective ballads to its predecessor.

The synthpop stylings of 'Angles' continues as well, though 'Comedown Machine's' head is more stuck in the past. As the retro cover hints, the album owes quite a lot to 1980s pop. Album opener "Tap Out," for instance, begins with a quick, screeching guitar solo before shifting into a pulsing guitar groove that brings to mind The Police or maybe even Devo. The song switches melodies several times, each of them just as catchy as the one before.

If there's any track on here that's quintessentially Strokes-ish, though, it's lead single "All the Time," which features a loud, oversaturated chorus in which singer Julian Casablancas' vocals show their edge. Strip away the production value and the song wouldn't have even been out of place on 'Is This It.'

"One Way Trigger" features the clearest, most jarring use of a synthesizer (right there from the beginning), but while those synths have a hard, jangly edge, they're seen elsewhere on the album with a softer, ambient vibe ("Chances," "80's Comedown Machine"). Those looking for grittier guitars have plenty to enjoy, too: "50 50" and "Partners and Crime" each feature distortion pedals to great effect. Fans of 'First Impressions of Earth' standout "Heart in a Cage" and its ilk will find quite a bit to love here.

Standout track "Welcome to Japan" is undoubtedly the group's funkiest yet; the bassline borders on straight-up disco (I'm reminded of Jamiroquai's "Dynamite"), while Casablancas' lyrics wonder, "What kind of asshole drives a Lotus?" It's clever and highly danceable, but it's also an example of The Strokes subtly expanding musically, essentially enculturating funk into their already distinctive sound.

But it's the album's final track that is the most markedly different. "Call It Fate Call It Karma" is vaguely reminiscent of the stripped down, relaxed vibes of 'Angles' tracks "Call Me Back" and "Life Is Simple in the Moonlight," but the production makes it sound like 1950s-era jazz played through a dusty phonograph (there's even an ever-so-brief trumpet note). It's so unlike everything else on the album that it could really only serve as the closer, but it's a strangely satisfying closer -- probably due to the fact that the song's only obviously shared DNA with the rest of the album is the group's penchant for catchy songwriting.

'Comedown Machine' isn't a major deviation from the rest of the Strokes' catalogue, but it might be their most sonically ambitious since their debut. While it follows rather closely in form and content to their last album, 'Angles,' its baby steps away from the group's established genre of catchy pop-rock make it a fresh and highly engrossing record.



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3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FourthReich
March 21st 2013



17071 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

awesome review although it is quite fair to compare this to "is this it". if that is what this band is capable of, then they should certainly be able to muster something up that is, at the very least, similar in quality. many bands have succeeded in releasing albums that match their best effort, why then should the strokes not be able to?

Digging: Dot Hacker - How's Your Process? (Work)

BigPleb
March 21st 2013



33892 Comments


Its not Is This It and it doesn't try to be, the record stands up on its own very well.

Review is good, have a pos.



Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Wildingo
March 21st 2013



1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Great review! Really enjoyed what you had to say.

I love the Strokes, so I'll eat up whatever they have to give me. :P Not very objective on my part but who really is.

omnipanzer
March 21st 2013



21418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've long since stopped getting excited for these guys releases but I hope it's good.

Digging: Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy

joplinpicasso
March 21st 2013



427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really fair and great review.

RadicalEd
March 21st 2013



2540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I think this review is good, but overall its to positive. I found this album disturbingly boring most of the time and Casablancas singing often times simply sucked.

Digging: Depth Connection - Fever Dreams

londoncalling457
March 21st 2013



2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yeah i'll give it to him for trying to change things around but sometimes he just doesn't pull it off too well. i like angles quite a bit, haven't decided how this stands up to it yet

stopbanningchamberd
March 21st 2013



201 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

band sucks the big one good review

CelestialDust
March 21st 2013



3155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm digging this more than the last album, good review

themainmast
March 21st 2013



243 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"I think this review is good, but overall its too positive. I found this album disturbingly boring most of the time and Casablancas singing often times simply sucked."

agreed. my favorite aspect of the strokes is julian's singing. his hooks are usually amazing. in this album, they seemed really uninspired.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 21st 2013



49766 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

shit album

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

toxin.
March 21st 2013



12010 Comments


why are you putting album titles in single quotation marks

jtswope
March 21st 2013



1840 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

it seems like most people are torn on this album. i haven't heard the whole thing, but i definitely won't go into it expecting is this it.

andreampuero
March 21st 2013



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Enjoyed this a lot more than Angles, the experimentation on this is not only brave but works as well.

bloc
March 21st 2013



34667 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

One Way Trigger is definitely my favourite on this. The rest I am not liking too much unfortunately. I have no idea how one can't like Angles and like this though.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

BigPleb
March 21st 2013



33892 Comments


Yeah I dig this

iGuter
March 21st 2013



337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thank you for not underselling this album with a bad review. This is yet another solid effort from the group. Angles was hated for bad reasons and I see this getting stomped on in public, but for REAL fans, this is another good album.

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

ianjulian
March 22nd 2013



621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

interesting deviations from their typical musical style.

RadicalEd
March 22nd 2013



2540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thank you for not underselling this album with a bad review. This is yet another solid effort from the group. Angles was hated for bad reasons and I see this getting stomped on in public, but for REAL fans, this is another good album.

Guess I'm not trve enough for this album then.

BigPleb
March 22nd 2013



33892 Comments


MY G-G-GENERATION



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