The Strokes: Comedown Machine

Posted March 30, 2013 by in



3/ 5


Genre: Indie rock, garage rock
Producer: Gus Oberg
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, compact disc, vinyl
Time: 39:51
Release Date: 26 March 2013
Spin This: "Tap Out," "All the Time," "Welcome to Japan"


Vintage timewarp still fits well on the band's evolving sound


There's an obvious lack of solid rock tunes like "All the Time," which might scare off a few ardent Strokers

Casablancas and Co. takes us on yet another trippy Eighties New Wave voyage

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Casablancas and Co. takes us on yet another trippy Eighties New Wave voyage

Those who have been following the Strokes from day one will probably call this their most obvious Julian Casablancas solo album to date. And it’s funny to say that since the peculiarly idiosyncratic front man seems to be calling all the musical shots as of late – regardless of what the band spokesmen are trying to sell you. But by all accounts, Comedown Machine isn’t that much of a surprise on the once trailblazing garage rock band; 2010’s Angels surrounded the group around New Wave experiments and Eighties pop-rock wonderment. Some weren’t able to digest the changes, while their closest admirers praised their gutsy motivation to try new things even as rumors of the band’s collapse highlighted the cover stories. Two years later, the Strokes – are at it again, cranking out more Eighties tributes to Naked Eyes, the Cars and Soft Cell. There’s less of a band structure emphasized here, at least according to what formerly described the band’s motif. It just seems like all eyes are glued to Casablancas in the same way all eyes are glued on Adam Levine and not on his Marooners. The Linn-drummed “80’s Comedown Machine” and the dreamy balladry of “Chances” provides a close-up view on what’s really going on here, even if the tunes aren’t totally in lined with what’s most familiar to listeners (at least for those still hoping for a return to Is This It). But the album doesn’t drift far from what works: “Tap Out” opens in the same way that “Macchu Picchu” did on Angles, but instead of relying on reggae riffs opts for a “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’” sugar rush. “All the Time,” possibly the strongest cut of them all, kicks out a timeless rock n’ roll groove with Casablancas working his lead vocals using his uncanny lackadaisical cool. And “Welcome to Japan” fires up some wicked LCD Soundsystem disco. It’s enough to start up the “sold-out” mumbling, but righteously good enough to shut the haters up after a second listen.

Where the band seems to be losing their edge is when they go for what they are best known for. The band does kick out one or two grungy rockers (“50/50,” “Partners in Crime”), but are hardly the centerpieces of the disc. “One Way Trigger,” the album’s first lead single, will only get attention for sounding like an a-ha ripoff. By the time Comedown Machine fades out with the strangely composed “Call It Fate, Call It Karma,” with Casablancas’s vocals and the ethereal Jim James-esque arrangement being muted in such a way that it sounds like vintage lo-fi cylinders, you’re most certain that the Strokes are walking in the shadows of Casablancas’s own vision of himself. It feels like a setback from Angles, but only a small one. And that’s because there’s still a lot to enjoy on this collection.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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