The Strokes Ė Comedown Machine
Record Label: RCA Records
Release Date: March 26 2013
Every year, there are records that I hear about, but never really end up checking out, for whatever reason. Usually, itís because there are other things that are higher up on my list, which is definitely the case for NYC indie band The Strokes. I wasnít very interested to listen to new album Comedown Machine, but Iíve heard a lot of good things about it. As an indie fan, I was interested, either way. But a lot of other records came out that made me put Comedown Machine to the wayside. After acquiring some birthday money, I noticed that Best Buy had a couple of boxsets of Comedown Machine with a t-shirt and the record, so I thought, why not? Iíve been meaning to get more band merch, and if I liked the record, it would be a pretty good deal. Well, spoiler alert: I enjoyed this album quite a bit, so it was definitely worth it. I havenít listened to an indie record in a few months, mainly because not a lot have come out that Iíve been really interested in. That could change, but nothingís really caught my eyes or ears. This record was one that I have been meaning to listen to, even though I wasnít too interested, and other stuff have come out alongside it. Ultimately, I was quite surprised with how diverse this record is. Thereís a lot to take from it that I didnít expect to hear. This review is also coming from the perspective of a person whoís never listened to this band before, so this is the first release I have going into this band. And while I have heard a lot of people talk about how disappointed they are with the record, I wasnít, but thatís because Iíve never heard anything else theyíve done. So as a standalone record, itís quite enjoyable. I will say that the only thing I do know about this band is that frontman Julian Casablancas appeared on the new Daft Punk record, Random Access Memories, earlier this year, so Iíve heard his voice before, albeit briefly. And honestly, I really enjoyed his voice on this LP, even if itís not perfect. His voice is solid, but he doesnít really have much of a range, because I found myself not really able to distinguish the songs from one another, mainly because of his voice not really changing much. It does, but ever so slightly. Iíll get to that more later, but letís dive into this record first.
Right from the start, opening track ďTap OutĒ gives off a feel for the entire record; itís groovy, funky, and catchy. This is actually one of my favorite tracks from the record, because it shows off the best parts of the band. Rhythm guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. really keeps the song (and the whole record) flowing with his really groovy guitar riffs, while lead guitarist Nick Valensi contributes some really cool guitar solos throughout the record that would come straight from a 70s or 80s classic rock band. Ultimately, the opening song is quite a nice intro, and that leads into first single, ďAll the Time.Ē Thatís the song thatís referenced on the shirt that I got with it, but for a first single, this is also a very solid track. Itís more or less the same Ė very catchy, and groovy, which is nice, but thatís really all I can take from it. Third track ďOne Way TriggerĒ starts off rather different, with a synth riff becoming the backbone of the track, with Casablancas rather whiny and higher pitched vocals taking the center stage, along with drummer Fabrizio Moretti. Iím on the first few tracks, and while theyíre enjoyable, they donít really grasp me in. Iím hearing some rather impressive instrumentation, especially from Hammond and Valensi, but thatís really it.
Itís after the track ďWelcome to JapanĒ where the record gets slightly boring to me, especially with the title track (?) ď80s Comedown Machine.Ē I think this is the title track, but Iím not quite sure. Regardless, this is the longest song on the record at around 5 minutes, but itís also the most boring. Itís not that itís bad, but derivative. It drags on for five minutes. The track doesnít go anywhere or really do anything engaging, and ultimately, it feels as though itís an interlude in the record. Thankfully, itís redeemed with next track ď50/50.Ē This songís a bit cooler, with Casablancaís vocals being distorted and the song being rather jumpy and in your face. This track is memorable, but really, itís one of the few memorable tracks this record has to offer. After this track, the songs start to run together. Thatís usually not a bad thing. Itís definitely not for this record, because itís a rather average record. The record itself doesnít drag on, even if some songs do. A couple songs stick out, such as eighth track ďPartners In Crime,Ē because of its odd sounding nature, but thatís really it.
Ultimately, this record is very enjoyable, and a very entertaining listen, but it can get rather derivative at times. A few songs really stand out, like the first couple tracks, but after awhile, it all becomes rather contrived and drags on. Mainly itís due in part to Casablancas vocals. I enjoy his vocals, because they are rather unique, but he doesnít have much of a range, and when he does, itís really high and whiny. For the bandís sound, it works, and heís not a grating vocalist whatsoever. Itís just that his vocals donít really go anywhere or do much of anything, except for a few tracks when they have added effects or he sings at a higher register. The instrumentation is quite solid, with the guitarists really driving the core sound of the record, but every member does add something interesting, even if it becomes drowned out after awhile. Nonetheless, as far as indie records go, itís a solid album, even though it wonít appear on my Album of the Year list.