The Strokes

Comedown Machine

Written by: PP on 16/05/2013 21:45:03

With "Angles" two years ago, indie-flavored garage rock legends The Strokes took a few more risks than people expected them to. Coming off a five-year pause after the mediocre "First Impressions Of Earth", it was a real make or break moment where the band was either going to succumb into writing the same, now slightly outdated form of garage/indie hybrid style that was big in early 2000s, or they would try something different. The result would be either catastrophic or a stroke of a genius, and looking back at the record two years ago, it certainly seems like a surefire case of the latter. It was maddeningly catchy, yet oddly twisted and experimental in its nature, and the coming of age album for vocalist Julian Casablancas. While he had always been the vocalist for one of the biggest bands in the planet, on that album his rock star persona took over, and during the live performances that followed, he was converted into an iconic figure rivaling that of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters).

That development continues on new album "Comedown Machine", which sees The Strokes continue on the path of experimentation and exploration of past decades interpreted through their fuzzy garage/indie rock soundscapes. You'll hear a 60s vibe in some songs, 70s psychedelia in others, 90s alternative elsewhere, and of course their trademark 2000s indie/garage plastered all over the expression. Only the 80s aren't explored to the same extent, other than on "80s Comedown Machine", which references Depeche Mode briefly.

Vocalist Julian Casablancas showcases one of his most varied vocal performances on this record, exploring a wide array of different styles ranging from high pitch croons on opener "Tap Out", through darker and more daring singing on "Slow Animals", to breaking his voice away from radio friendly into vivid and warm gruff ones on "All The Time". The latter's fuzzy melodies are arguably some of the finest you'll hear in all of garage rock in 2013. He can also do the silky-soft, dreamy singing as evident on "One Way Trigger", which also has playful experimental guitar on display as the lead riff for the song. "50/50" has a Foo Fighters style rock'n'roll vibe to it, just a straight up rock song no bullshit, where Casablancas almost screams the lyrics through severe mic distortion in one of the heaviest songs The Strokes have written during their career.

Overall though "Comedown Machine" isn't quite as special as "Angles" was. It's a strong album on many counts, but there's also a lot of material which doesn't really say much to the listener other than "well, it's cool that they're experimenting but...", so you end up leaving the album if not with a sour taste in your mouth, then at least with one that isn't as sweet as the previous record.


Download: All The Time, Tap Out, 50/50, Happy Ending
For the fans of: Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes, Kings Of Leon, The Thermals
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.03.2013
RCA / Rough Trade

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