The Strokes – Comedown Machine (Album Review)

One cannot possibly imagine how is it like being The Strokes, unless of course if you happen to be Julian Casablancas, Nikolai Fraiture, Nick Valensi, Fabrizio Moretti, and Albert Hammond Jr. After setting the very much high benchmark template for possibly the next decade for guitar-based rock with their 2001 debut album, Is This It, it surely wasn’t surprising to find them pacing the track warily as the music industry continues to give rise to many rock bands each year. That being said, The Strokes however, has a stunning ability to provide the audience something entirely different and refreshing to a certain extent, if one may say, creating seamless rock music that sounds as though it was an amalgamation of musical climates, where even the dirtiest garage bands have the knack in creating what would be deemed as a great rock record, not forgetting the illusion of a million-dollar studio improvisation that comes along with it. After the dreadful release of Angles in 2011, the New York City darlings have somewhat taken an inclination to keeping themselves at the lowest profile possible, so much that the scarcity of the band’s name in the media was highly unnerving until the end of March earlier this year. Their fifth studio album, Comedown Machine, could have very well gained them some brand new fans, if not the old ones to say the least.

Comedown Machine is both an interesting collaboration and compromise amongst members in the band. It definitely sounds like something The Strokes has come up with, especially more so when Casablancas jumps into the room with his distinctive vocals, pulling off surprising falsettos as well as this time, it seems that the band has taken up a slight inclination towards the lead vocalist’s retro-esque side. Welcome to Japan is unquestionably one of the highlights in the album, comfortably becoming a track which screams featherlike melodies, not forgetting the funnily dry lyrics that always seem to catch on with most listeners, particularly coming to terms with the question of what kind of asshole drives a Lotus? Chances and 80’s Comedown Machine are somewhat an amalgamation of heavy synths and mid-level tempos put together, which is quite very well balanced for an album consisting of eleven tracks. The album comes close to a finish as it winds into Happy Ending, a track which fully embraces the significance of subtle synthpop made cool.

The Strokes has reasonably made it onto the shores of most rock fans’ hearts, mainly due to their powerful guitar-driven tracks as well as their ineffable trademark sounds. If Comedown Machine were to be laid out side by side with the infamous 2001 debut album, Is This It, chances are that the latest release would not so much as to make a memorable impression at all. That being said, the music industry is always in a constant state of flux, and so are the artists themselves. No one really knows for sure if Comedown Machine remains to be an album that not many Strokes fan would anticipate, as despite its lack of familiarity, Comedown Machine certainly reminds listeners of what the band is still able to do, and that is to produce a rather more meticulously thought-out album as it is surprisingly lively and catchy.  

Co-Editor’s Rating: 7.1

Jacy Ong

"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light." - Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian

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