Comedown Machine [VINYL]
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Fifth studio album by the American indie rock band. Featuring the single 'All the Time', the album entered the UK Albums Chart at #10 and received critical acclaim from various reviewers.
For anyone who was keeping up with the music press around the turn of the century, The Strokes were ubiquitous.
Hailed as the saviours of an alternative scene that had grown dull and stagnant, they exploded into the public consciousness with The Modern Age EP and followed it up with Is This It, one of the most perfectly realised debut albums in recent history.
Their career since then – or so the perceived wisdom goes – is one of diminishing returns: albums that never outdid this early benchmark, inter-band quarrels, solo releases and a lengthy hiatus.
But perhaps it is time that perceived wisdom was revised a little. After all, the triumph of Is This It wasn’t simply down to the group’s appealingly dishevelled aesthetic and underdog mentality.
In celebrating the past while aiming at something contemporary and meaningful, the debut succeeded because it was full of effortlessly brilliant pop songs.
And here’s the thing: The Strokes have always put out brilliant pop songs. Maybe they aren’t quite so effortless these days: recording sessions for 2011’s Angles were reportedly fraught, tension-filled affairs.
Sure, maybe that earlier magic isn’t quite so keenly felt. But the hit-to-miss ratio across their discography is, nevertheless, remarkable.
So it goes on Comedown Machine. The songs here might take a little longer to unlock than their predecessors, but none of them strike a false note. Although plenty of the group’s signature sounds are present and correct, they form the backdrop to an unexpectedly wide range of styles and approaches.
More than ever before, emphasis is placed on a tight, propulsive groove, such as that which opens proceedings in Tap Out. The following All the Time is fairly by-the-book, but their a-ha-plundering One Way Trigger signals something a little stranger and a little more unique.
The almost-title track 80’s Comedown Machine is a swelling, low-key number in thrall to the decade it name-checks. It finds Julian Casablancas on rueful, eloquent form, and typifies the ease with which The Strokes open themselves up to new possibilities here.
Welcome to Japan is enticingly odd, Slow Animals boasts a bittersweet, moving chorus, while finale Call it Fate, Call it Karma is by some stretch the dreamiest, most unusual thing they have ever put to tape.
Brilliant pop songs, then. Sometimes that’s all that really matters.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Intriguing ,, peculiar record. Some outstanding tracks. Won't be gathering dust on the shelf.Published 16 months ago by Se7en Strokes
This album is brilliant. Particular highlights are Chances, 50/50 and Welcome To Japan. The openers great too!Published 16 months ago by Connor Reid