For fans looking for a reincarnation of Is This It the Strokes’ new album Comedown Machine will be a bit of a comedown in itself. For those looking for something more like Angles, or a mix of Crystal Castles, early MGMT, late Phoenix, and some of Julian Casablancas’ synthier songs from his solo project, Phrazes for the Young, Comedown Machine may be a pleasant surprise. A mix of new wave, synth-pop, and songs that reminisce of First Impressions of Earth, Comedown Machine may attract new fans, but will not thrill those who adored The Modern Age, Is This It, or Room on Fire.
The album starts off with slower songs like “Tap Out”, a dream-poppy song that could be mistaken for a slower MGMT song and “All The Time” with a sound that could have appeared on Is This It. The album picks up speed with “One Way Trigger” and “Welcome to Japan.” The first is more like a Phoenix song or a softer, poppier version of “Call Me Back” from the album Angles. The second is a quicker, happier, disco-esque version of “Tourist” from Julian Casablancas’ Phrazes for the Young, a fun song, but the downside is that the fun sounds a wee bit forced—as much of the fun bits on the album unfortunately do.
“80’s Comedown Machine” is another example of a song that could have appeared on Phrazes for the Young—it is like a slower version of “Glass” from the same album, or a harder, electric, Bon Iver. “50-50” appears mid-album, and along with the later “Happy Endings”, are quite possibly the most Strokes-like of them all, with a harder, grungier sound.
“Slow Animals” and “Chances” have Julian Casablancas hitting high notes, lots of synth, and a slow, dubby, mellow feel. Aptly part of an album called Comedown Machine. Towards the end of the album “Partners In Crime” gives a very fun, easy-going feel that surpasses “One Way Trigger” in terms of quirkiness and catchiness, but is more like a slow song from MGMT than anything else.
The album ends with an echoey, bluesy, Hawaiian feel, with hints of 20’s lounge music in “Call It Fate, Call It Karma.” This last song is perhaps most indicative of the whole album: a mix of various sounds previously not found on Strokes’ records, with odd quirks unexpected of a grunge band, and a propensity to experiment with sounds like slower, new wave bands. For those looking for a Strokes transformation, or a Phrazes For The Young sound with the rest of the band, the album will be a pleasant surprise. For those looking for Is This It, First Impressions, or even a continuation of Angles, the album is certainly a comedown.
2–All The Time
3–One Way Trigger
4–Welcome To Japan
5–80’s Comedown Machine
8–Partners In Crime
11–Call It Fate