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4.1 out of 5 stars
Comedown Machine
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2013
As a hardcore Strokes fan my opinion may be slightly biased, which I have considered before writing this review in order to make it worth reading. Despite this I cannot fault this album, and that is my honest opinion fan or no fan.

This album has variety which cannot be seen on any other Strokes album, whilst at the same time keeping within an alternative 80's theme, each song flowing effortlessly on to the next. It is a joy to listen to; my current favourite songs being 'Tap Out', 'Welcome to Japan' and 'Happy Endings' however this changes on a daily basis because every song has different qualities about it, being such a diverse album.

New techniques and styles are used, which is parallel to their last LP 'Angles' however, this time it feels professional and works well like it is meant to be that way, rather than almost experimental like with Angles.

Overall it sounds like a band that has evolved and improved, making songs that are so different yet are so undoubtably Strokes, because of the powerful hooks and addictiveness that you can only hear from this band. It is hard for them to ever out-do 'It This It' which is the curse of a perfect debut LP, so critics are always lukewarm with any other album they put out. But I can say with certainty that this is yet another intriguing, fresh and perfect album which will remain in my collection for many years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2013
As the BBC review above quite rightly states - there is a received wisdom regarding The Strokes that Is This It was some sort of perfect hybrid of rugged style, retro chic - taking girls out, beskinny-jeaned in your dad's car.
True - their debut was unique and remarkable in the way it reinvogorated an old image and synthesized it into the bombast of the turn of a century. Jake Bugg is doing something similar now. But they were working from that old image as a starting point - and The Strokes hardly get enough credit for how since then, each album has added new layers, new original ideas, without losing anything from the old (check Vision of Divsion from album 3 to see how this uses all 3 opening albums' key sounds to create something newer).

If anything, their last effort - Angles - was the poorest in terms of incoporating those signature sounds. The flip side of that of course is that Angles stands alone as quite a taught record with very jagged sounds beneath Julian's straining voice. This voice might be the first thing you notice on Comedown Machine.

It's ironic that on the most successful album - Julian saught to disguise his singing out of embarrassment - yet that became part of both the sound and the image. Full credit to him then, for attempting to develop it in new and interesting ways album-by-album. Life on Other Planets was the first that saw him really open it out. Sometimes that worked - Juicebox for example - but at times it got a bit much. He now seems to have recognised this and has far more variety in place for Comedown Machine. Little falsettos mixed with signature world-weary drone, and even unhinged anger on 50/50.

So, now for the album review cliches. It's a grower. In time the tracks intermingle and slot together perfectly. It has 'a sound'. It's got a bit of everything. Of these - the grower is worth paying attention to. I am a Strokes fan and it took several full listens to understand what the album was doing. I wouldn't like to dwell on the individual songs - but I particularly enjoy he opening track Tap Out and Slow Animals and listening to these two will give you a good idea of the scope of Comedown Machine.

Conclusion? If you are of the unswayable opinion that Is This It? was some kind of zenith - then this won't change your mind. If you understand that the other albums have many merits of their own - and appreciate how hard the band clearly work on developing their sound and ideas - then get this and listen to it. A lot.
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So it turns out The Strokes were actually an eighties pop band masquerading as the Velvet Underground? The unfortunately named `Comedown Machine' is for all intents and purposes a Julian Casablancas solo album which owes as much of a heavy debt to Midge Ure as it does John Cale. It essentially picks up where "Angles" left off which will delight some and send others into a dark despair not least in displaying​ some of the worse album covers of recent years.

Opener `Tap Out' should see the brilliant French pop band Phoenix consult their lawyers for copyright infringement; the truly awful `One Way Trigger' sounds like A'Ha attending remedial poetry class, while the title track could herald the start of the Howard Jones revival. Three songs save this album from descending into the ordinary and remind you that when the elements come together the Strokes cut the mustard. These are the excellent dark power pop `All The Time', the stinging punk rock of `50:50' and the mellow loveliness of `Chances'. Perhaps, in extending the milk of human kindness, a tick in the box could also go to the risky experimentation on the last song `Call It Fate, Call It Karma', but frankly a one-off listen to this should satisfy even the most charitable member of the Casablancas fan club. Bands like The Killers and the Strokes have taken to plundering the 1980s and producing albums which are either dire (Day And Age) or average (Angles). If you really want to hear this kind of music done brilliantly with real energy, originality and verve buy music by Phoenix, Crystal Castles or Radio Dept.

The Strokes have in effect turned into a very decent pop band, which is fine, but they started promising something genuinely exciting, bold, forward thinking and potentially life-affirming. Apologies to die-hard Strokes fans who will undoubtedly view these comments as unhelpful, but if you honestly felt "Is this It' or for that matter the vastly underrated "Room on Fire" were seminal feasts in which to indulge your finest musical tastes, `Comedown Machine' by comparison is like cold rice pudding with brown skin on top.
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Another great LP from The Strokes, featuring the familiar mix of funky grooves and abrasive guitar riffs that we've come to expect since ROOM ON FIRE with a little more of the retro synth sounds from ANGLES. It's also tighter than the bloated FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF EARTH and far more interesting than the over-rated IS THIS IT.
To be honest, I'm struggling to pick faults. Track 2, "All The Time" ends with 30 seconds of virtual silence, as if they were recording a demo and left the tape running. It's not a big deal, but it does stop the album dead just as it was getting started. The set ends with an experimental little oddity, "Call it Fate, Call it Karma" which kinda feels like a bonus track stuck on there to make the numbers up, but I quite like it.
COMEDOWN MACHINE seems to be the first time The Strokes have really considered the album as a whole, rather than just a bunch of catchy songs. The mix of garage rock and 80's pop works surprisingly well. Julian Casablancas sings in a sort of broken falsetto on a few tracks and his vocals are quite low in the mix, but this is an album intended to be played loud. The songs may take a while to sink in, but after a few listens they all start to click into place. So, apart from a few minor quibbles, this is probably the cleverest, most coherent album the band has ever produced. Almost a concept album (some of the tracks quietly bleed into each other) but without any prog-rock indulgences. This is the one they'll never be able to beat.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
Has it really been 12 years since The Strokes released "Is This It" back in 2001 and were heralded as the saviours of rock and roll? That album did a lot of things such as bringing rock back to its basics at a time when Nu-Metal was king, it also has been a heavy burden for the band as whatever they release since is always compared to "Is This It". With 2011's release "Angles" all was not well with the band, there was a lot of infighting between the members and the album itself was met with lukewarm reviews from fans and critics alike. It gave people the opportunity to use the lame "Is This It" pun on the album's release. So two years later and The Strokes release album number five the heavily influenced by the 80's "Comedown Machine", wisely the band have avoided all press duties and instead will let the music do the talking this time.

That 80's sound is there for all to hear on "One Way Trigger" with its bouncy bass-line and a rather cheap sounding keyboard as Julian hits the high notes perfectly, it is a song that required repeated listens to see just exactly what they were up to and probably sums up the album perfectly in that don't dismiss it after one quick listen. It is a better indicator of what to expect rather than the first single of "All The Time" which had many people suggesting that The Strokes were returning to the sound of "Is This It". That's not to say there is no rocking numbers as a quick listen to "50 50" shows that The Strokes do 3 minute rock songs as good as any one.

Album opener "Tap Out" wears its 80's heart on its sleeve and will have you scratching your head as to what 80's song it reminds you of. "80's Comedown Machine" starts of sounding like Ultravox's "Vienna" before a slow vocal kicks in. "Welcome To Japan" has a funky reggae vibe throughout almost continuing on from "Machu Picchu" from the last album "Angles". Of course not everything works "Partners In Crime" veers too much towards sounding like The Killers and album closer "Call It Fate Call It Karma" is just too plain weird to work and sounds totally out of place on a Strokes album.

So yes The Strokes find themselves in that terrible position in that if they try something new they get criticised for leaving behind their old style, yet when they try something new people will just say "I wish they could sound like they did on Is This It". This is after all a band who have many time stated their love for all things 80's and with this album are paying homage to that decade whilst still staying true to their classic sound.
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on 25 December 2013
Really pleased Strokes have reinvented themselves once again with this album - I felt First Impressions of Earth did something similar but I didn;t feel all the tracks on their third album were consistently good. I think this album is better than their previous album; I felt Angles ran out of steam half way through whereas this album builds all the way through to the end, theres good variety too IMO. I cant name any rubbish tracks on comedown machine - I'm enjoying them all and if you like the Strokes then I don;t think you'll be disappointed with this offering. I'm tempted to say this is their best album todate. Tunes stick in your head like crazy!! ;-)
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on 16 April 2013
The Strokes' final album for RCA is a mix of old school 80's electric pop and the usual Strokes cool riffs and as always they have moved forward into new areas. I really like this album. No, it's not 'Is This It' but if they just put out another album like that 12 years after it was first released, people would be quick to say they were predictable. 'All The Time' is the closest song to the classic Strokes sound.

I love all 5 albums and am a hugh Strokes fan, and really recommend this album.

Some are saying this is the Strokes final album, but who knows, only time will tell...
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on 1 April 2013
I have already played this record more than any other Strokes LP other than 'Is This It.' Yes, in places it sounds a bit too much like Phoenix, but it has some of their most catchy tunes yet. There are some 80's reference points, but most independant bands are referencing this decade at the moment, and 'Is This It' was reflection of New Wave classics such as Iggy Pop's New Values anyway so music is always going to be about past influences. I love One Way Trigger, the freshest and sexiest Stokes song for more than a decade.
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on 26 June 2013
The strokes reliably deliver yet another album of quirky melancholy melodies and quenching chilled out vibes. Just try and listen to "One Way Trigger" without grinning and feeling a bit giddy.

Moving forward, the strokes experiment with quite a variety of vocals and new sounds whilst still managing to maintain that instantly recognisable style that any Strokes fan will be desperate to know has not been lost.

At the end of a bad day, just sit back, relax and enjoy the massaging strokes.
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on 30 August 2013
This is a great album which I thoroughly enjoy listening to but as its the Strokes you would still expect better. It's their weakest album in which they have expanded on the sound they dallied with on Angles. The songs are typically catchy, although one of them sounds scarily like Take On Me by A-ha, but none of them leave any lasting impression. Not really sure where they go from here but I'm sure it will be fun finding out.
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