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Comedown Machine

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The RCA logo that dominates the album art of Comedown Machine sarcastically signifies The Strokes fulfilling their five-album contract obligation to the label. With similarly endearing cheekiness, the opening song is titled “Tap Out.” Inside jokes aside, Comedown Machine is a seriously approached indie-pop album that furthers the band’s hip cosmopolitan sound. “Tap Out” plays with striking similarities to Julian Casablancas’ solo album Phrazes for the Young, replete with falsetto vocals set to muted disco flourishes. But the following single “All The Time” properly sets the album’s tone with The Strokes' familiar post-punk influences and driving guitar riffs chugging alongside Casablancas’ more recognizable tenor. It’s impossible not to recall A-ha’s 1985 synth-pop hit “Take On Me” when hearing the percolating keyboards in “One Way Trigger”—especially when Casablancas ramps up his glassy falsetto to Morten Harket’s range. But with help from producer Gus Oberg (who also mixed the band’s preceding album, Angels), The Strokes succeed at importing such '80s influences without drowning in them.

Customer Reviews

All The Time

Described by the radio station who broke the news of its existence as having a “classic Strokes sound”, ‘All The Time’ is indeed the album’s big, shiny thrown bone, a song that’ll make you want to dig out those old disintegrated jeans from 2002 and earn yourself six months on the Sex Offenders’ register by wearing them in public again. It’d almost be worth it, too: from the way it collapses into motion with a sudden percussive jolt, to Nick Valensi’s serpentine guitar solo, to the unmistakable ‘Room On Fire’ vibe running throughout, this is rock ’n’ roll as only The Strokes can do it. The best bit, though, is the lyric that seems to poke fun at the band's torturous creative process: “All the time that I need is never quite enough, all the time that I have is all that’s necessary.”

So excited!


"Comeback" Machine

True strokes fans will not be disappointed by the Strokes' latest effort. Many reviews have already remarked on how different this album is from the last four, especially from ITI, ROF, and FIOE. There is, however, a common thread that connects the first three albums with Comedown Machine, not to mention that distinguishes CM from Jules' solo album, Phrazes for the Young.

That thread is the palpable connection between bandmates that can be felt through all songs on the album.

I will admit that, like many fans, I was taken aback by One Way Trigger, and I'm still not terribly satisfied with it. Even All the Time was a bit disappointing, with its soulless verse and chorus which seem to be stuck together awkwardly with scotch tape (the solo, on the other hand, I often find myself whistling at random times).

However, those are probably the two weakest tracks on this album, so it's a bit baffling that they released them first. Perhaps this is all part of some elaborate "comedown" process for the Strokes: to subject themselves to some kind of humiliation in order to rebuild their relationship with fans after Angles. I digress.

Top Tracks:

1. Partners In Crime: Imagine you combined "Last Night" with Julian's "Glass," then gave it LSD. It's incredible.
2. Tap Out: Dark, but upbeat. Makes you want to dance (like "Duane!").
3. Slow Animals: Phoenix in the verse, Andrew Bird-ish pre-chorus, Radiohead-ish chorus. Really underrated and beautiful.
4. Welcome to Japan: #1 for a lot of people. Silly, funky, catchy, and lots of fun.
5. 80's Comedown Machine: a profoundly sad slow-jam that gradually implodes and leaves the listener with more questions than answers.

The album as a whole, though, is a unified, continuous effort. It sounds very little like Is This It, and more like a continuation of the evolution that First Impressions and Phrazes implied. I find that incredibly refreshing, and I'm sure that you will, too--that is, provided you really like the Strokes, and not the thing the music media has been trying to make them out to be for the last 12 years.


Formed: 1998 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Equally inspired by classic tunesmiths like Buddy Holly and John Lennon and the street-smart attitude and angular riffs of fellow New Yorkers Television and the Velvet Underground, the Strokes were also equally blessed and cursed with an enormous amount of hype -- particularly from the U.K. music press, whose adulation for the group rivaled their fervor for Oasis in the early '90s. Barely in their twenties by the time their debut album, Is This It, arrived in 2001, singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas,...
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