ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Comedown’ a letdown

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First Posted: 4/1/2013

There are quite a few moments when listening to the new Strokes album when you’re left wondering whether the band will ever recapture the wild and joyous delight of songs like “Last Nite” and “The Modern Age.” Those were tunes that Strokes’ fans fell in love with when the band released their classic debut record “Is This It” in 2001.

The band continued to please fans and with follow-up records. Tracks like “12:51” and “Reptilla” proved they could evolve their sound without straying too far from the original sound everyone fell in love with. They were able to keep fans interested and give them something fresh.

“Comedown Machine,” The Strokes’ fifth album, sounds unlike anything written before it. For starters, singer Julian Casablancas took a more dynamic approach, moving from soothing and metallic to dancy and groovy.

Musically, the sound is more diverse. “Comedown Machine” is very preoccupied with a ’70s and ’80s vibe. One of the album’s best tracks, “Welcome to Japan,” hardly sounds anything like the Strokes of the past as they get all moochy, toe-tapping, and hip-swaying.

As the 11-track record progresses, it’s almost as if Casablancas wrote a solo album with the rest of the members backing him. He shows his passion for ’80s new wave, and it seems as the rest of the band was dragged in with no choice.

“One Way Trigger,” although another dance/new wave tune, is solid for what it is and may be the standout on the record. “All the Time” should sound more familiar to Stroke fans and is the most obvious single.

A little over ten years ago, The Strokes were credited for “saving rock and roll” with their guitar driven sound. Now, in 2013, the band is more driven by fashion and playing vintage synthesizers. Strokes fans of old will not be pleased, and fans of new wave/dance will be able to point out much better songs in the genre than those comprised on this record.

The band is at a crossroads, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here, but this record is definitely a surprising effort that no one, maybe not even The Strokes, expected.

The Strokes ‘Comedown Machine’ Rating: W W