2011's 'Angles' hardly feels like a distant memory, though some of us may wish it was, but new album 'Comedown Machine' is proof that The Strokes are back stronger than ever. Maybe even rounding things off to a fitting end if there’s anything to those split rumours? Enough of that though.
Opener 'Tap Out' sounds disturbingly similar to some of 'Angles', but thankfully with enough feedback and sass to steer it round to sounding like one of their classics. Similar to first glimpse 'One Way Trigger' in it’s synth-indebted, vocally interesting output, not dissimilar to Julian Casablancas’ solo output 'Phrazes For The Young'.
First official single 'All Of The Time' feels like it could have sat comfortably on 'Is This It', with classic Albert Hammond Jr guitar lines and lyrics that you can comfortably mumble along to on the good old iPod. Just don’t blame me for the weird looks you get.
Following on from this you get 'Welcome To Japan', a track with vocals mastered so low it’s impossible to know what Casablancas is on about, bar the line “What kind of asshole drives a Lotus?”. This aside, there’s a lot more guitar mastery from Hammond Jr and more oohhs to catch yourself singing along to than you can shake a stick at.
'80s Comedown Machine' lets the side down, an almost 6 minute long track that has no real hook to keep the listeners attention, quickly becoming mellow background music that seems like a band indulging themselves. However, pace is quickly picked up again with 50/50, with typical Casablancas' raspy, distorted vocals and the almost machine like drumming from Fab Morretti, whose talents have been woefully underused so far, in my opinion.
'Slow Animals' is a grower, with its alternating tempo to draw the listener in, while 'Chances' sounds like something off The Killers' last release, not bad I hasten to add, but not good at the same time. The latter stages of 'Comedown Machine' sound like a band trying to transpose their discography into one last hurrah to produce something far more coherent, as there are snatches of every Strokes album on here, which is perhaps beneficial to the casual listener and to those trying to figure out how the hell the band got to 'Comedown Machine'.
'Happy Ending' is another that sounds like an outtake from 'Phrazes For The Young', bypassing 'Get Into The Groove' on its way to the studio. While it includes yet more high pitched caterwauling, it’s prepared to be the track on the album that you’ll be able to pull some shapes too, something that is very light on the ground here.
Closer 'Call It Fate Call It Karma' is perhaps the biggest letdown here. There’s no flow from any other track on the album, its sits as a dreamlike end to the whole thing. 'Comedown Machine' is at times thought provoking, a completely different direction yet still reassuringly The Strokes. Is that it? Only time will tell.
'Comedown Machine' is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk. Find more info at thestrokes.com.