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Album Review: ‘Comedown Machine’ by The Strokes

BY CONNOR HACHEY

Following up from the chart-toping success received by Angles in 2011, The Strokes are back in the circuit with their newest album: Comedown Machine. Every opportunity to put their retro-rock style and indie appeal on display is, quite obviously, taken. Comedown Machine comes off as well produced (once again by Gus Oberg), but they noticeably evolve their garage sound to one more suited for a stadium. There are some unique ideas being bounced around here, including an oddly placed dance-y track featuring lead singer Julian Casablancas’ surprisingly enticing falsetto (who’d of thought?). Overall it sounds cool and catchy, just like The Strokes ought to.

The first track “Tap Out” is set to be a hard-core fan-pleaser. It just sounds like a classic record from The Strokes. Other tracks reminiscent of something one might hear on a previous release are “All The Time” and “Welcome to Japan.” The instrumentals are on point as are Julian Casablancas’ vocals. Nothing too revolutionary is happening here, but considering these songs are representative of why fans fell for them originally, I’m totally fine with that.

Speaking of Casablancas’ voice, it was a pleasant surprise to hear his cool falsetto on “One Way Trigger.” The song, which happens to be Comedown Machine’s first single, is definitely taking The Stroke’s sound in a different direction. I don’t want to say that it feels misplaced considering the other types of songs on the track list, but it definitely stands out as something a little experimental. Considering the dance/indie-pop vibes, it’s almost as if Casablancas plucked a B-side off the cutting board of his solo project that dropped a couple years ago, Phrazes for the Young (2009).

Some other songs worth noting are “80’s Comedown Machine” and “Happy Ending.” “80’s Comedown Machine” is laid back, slow, and smooth. It’s different from everything else, but it’s quickly becoming a go to track on my playlist. “Happy Ending” is ultra catchy is my absolute favorite song included on Comedown Machine.  It’s upbeat and, I believe, features The Strokes at the top of their game.

Comedown Machine is The Strokes’ fifth studio album, which completes their five-album contract with RCA Records. The band has no plans to promote through touring, so it’s fair to say that their future is TBA. Listening to The Strokes evolve musically and as a band has been a great experience and even though I’m holding out for some type of reunion in the future, if they closed the book here I’d have no complaints.

 

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