Album: Comedown Machine
Artist: The Strokes
Genre: Indie Rock
Great tracks: One Way Trigger, All The Time, 50/50
Dud tracks: 80’s Comedown Machine, Partners in Crime
Rating: 3 out of 5
If you’ve loved The Strokes ever since their breakthrough album Is This It, there’s a chance you’ll hate the New York five-piece’s new album Comedown Machine.
Why? Because, just like you, The Strokes have changed, man. No matter how much you want to deny it, you (and them) have grown up.
Their sound has matured. It’s cleaner. More responsible. And, apparently, lead man Julian Casablancas has invested in some very small underpants — because he hits some serious high notes on this album.
The first track Tap Out highlights this. There’s no stoner, surfy drongo deep-voiced Casablancas until near the end, but the guitar-work is trademark cool.
But the best example of the ball-scrunching falsetto hits your eardrums in track three, One Way Trigger. The lyrics of the chorus are as follows:
Find a job, find a friend,
Find a home, find a dog
Settle down, out of town
Find a dream, shut it down
Learn them, because: a) it says a lot about where The Strokes heads are at right now, and where yours should be, and b) just squealing high-pitched noises to match the tune is friggin annoying.
The grown-up-ness is taken too far in 80’s Comedown Machine, an ambling, almost boring song that feels a lot like halfway filler and lasts nearly five minutes. Come on, guys. The Strokes don’t do five minute songs.
It’s just the start of a slumped section of the album, with Slow Animals and Partners in Crime both lacking any remarkable punch.
But traditionalists will love All The Time, which sounds like it could have been found on the cutting room floor from Is This It and recycled for album number five, while Welcome to Japan and Chances are reminiscent of the hits from their second album, Room On Fire.
And with (almost) every other album from The Strokes, the musicianship is top notch. The bass-lines are thrummingly docile, the drumming is tight and the guitar work will have you jumping on your bed, practicing for the finals of the local air guitar championships. The heavier, punkish track 50/50 is a case in point.
The final track, Call It Fate, Call It Karma, is a haunting, Doors-like lo-fi ballad that needs to be heard to be believed. It doesn’t sound like The Strokes. But then again, given their new-found maturity, maybe it really does.
I have loved The Strokes from day one. And this album intrigues and excites me, but there are elements that stink. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 more mature adult listeners.