The Strokes - Comedown Machine

Still going, just not so strong

Comedown Machine

Fans freaked out when they
first heard One Way Trigger,
the high-pitched, a-ha-sounding
computer game
soundtrack offered as the first
glimpse into the New York
band’s fifth album. They
thought it was different – too
different, perhaps, from the
(frankly) stodge that came to
pad out the group’s records
since their glorious, youthful
debut in 2001.

But the thing is, on closer
inspection, it’s really nothing
new. The standard Strokes
chord progression and snap-sharp
drums are there, with
Julian Casablancas as non-committal
as ever. While it’s not
business as usual, it’s not far
off; but, sadly, neither is it
representative of Comedown
Machine as a whole. On the
moments where a desire to
push the envelope works, as on
the US punk of 50/50, there
are glimpses that the group still
“have it”. For every sonic
surprise, however, there’s a let
down. Casablancas’ voice is
continually auto-tuned, covered
up, hushed or filtered, while
slower numbers (Slow Animals,
Chances) feel like filler.

Closer Call It Fate, Call It
Karma, illustrates this
perfectly. A waltz-time 40s
throwback you have to strain
to hear, it poses questions
with no answers. It’s wilful
experimentation with no pay-off,
sounding lonely, old, with
only the occasional, tempting
flicker of a genius that once
burnt bright. 

2 stars 2 stars

Rough Trade | tbc (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Jake Kennedy
<< Back to Issue 413

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