The Strokes

Comedown Machine

BY Sarah MurphyPublished Mar 22, 2013

Over a decade after releasing Is This It, the Strokes are still trying to figure out how to create an album that matches the near-perfection of their debut. The band's future looked unsure after Julian Casablancas literally "mailed it in" on 2011's Angles, emailing his vocal tracks. The result was a lackluster, disjointed attempt at a new sound. Comedown Machine marks the band's return to a more functional, cohesive unit, but sees them once again reaching for a vibe they don't know how to pull off particularly well. Apparently determined to ditch their signature garage sound, Casablancas and company have traded in '70s scuzz for '80s pop. The previously released "One Way Trigger" is a baffling assault of falsetto and synths, foreshadowing a collection of overwhelmingly shiny, new wave-tinged tracks like "80's Comedown Machine" and "Chances." Lead single "All the Time" is the most obvious throwback to the Strokes' classic sound, but it fails to deliver any of the immediate punch, catchiness or general enjoyableness that Angles comeback tune "Under Cover of Darkness" possessed. Comedown Machine is a more even effort, but it lacks any show-stopping moments, allowing the forgettable songs to blend together. On Is This It, Casablancas crooned that someday we'd "miss the good old days." He likely didn't mean it like this, though. Expectations have always been ridiculously high for this group, but Comedown Machine fails to get the Strokes any closer to meeting them.

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