The Strokes: Comedown Machine (RCA) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - PhoenixThe Strokes

Comedown Machine


Mar 22, 2013 Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - Phoenix Bookmark and Share

Fair or not, Is This It and Room on Fire, The Strokes’ one-two punch from the first few years of the ‘00s, loom heavy over all of their subsequent releases. And for good reasonthose albums remain immensely listenable and enjoyable, the sheer pop prowess and technical chops belied by how casual they felt. With every record since thenbasically, every record where they’ve tried to demonstrate something resembling artistic growth-they’ve been left scrambling.

Sadly, their fifth and newest effort, Comedown Machine, is no different. While it introduces some interesting new ideas to The Strokes’ repertoire, there are more clunkers here than anything resembling the dizzy highs of Is This It. It’s not as obviously a band-in-transition album as Angles was, but it’s also just not very good.

Julian Casablancas has apparently begun to experiment with a falsetto on this album, which is occasionally used to good effect. “One Way Trigger” features a spiky synth and guitar line that backs up the new Casablancas voice well, and sounds the most Strokes-ish of any of the new songs. Opener “Tap Out,” on the other hand, sounds like the band found some old Talking Heads records but doesn’t quite have the chops to make the songs swing, which makes the new vocal style sound forced.

For a band known best for their sneering rock songs, it might be surprising that that the best track on Comedown Machine is a ballad, the sort-of title song “80’s Comedown Machine.” A string quartet and wonderful guitar line provide a great backdrop for Casablancas’ downcast singing, and the whole thing sounds like it’s tailor-made for Sofia Coppola’s next film.

Unfortunately, “50/50” sounds like a cast-off from the band’s heyday, though the guitar and drum work are strong. “Partners in Crime” ranks with the band’s worst, an attempt at some kind of modern rockabilly… or something. And “Chances” sounds like a bad Killers song.

Overall, it might not be fair for The Strokes to have to live under the shadow of their own previous successes. But when you know a band can be that good, it’s frustrating to hear the same band put out an album this forgettable. (

Author rating: 4/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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Strokes Fan
March 22nd 2013

I expect very few to agree with this rating.

March 22nd 2013

You certainly are a Hamm of a reviewer….

March 22nd 2013

I’m surprised at the hate for Partners in Crime, I think it’s the best song on the album.

March 22nd 2013

I rate the album with 6.5/10. And this review with 2.7/10.

March 22nd 2013

Tap out is a great song! Harsh, harsh review, obviously written by a mean spirited husk of a human being.

Nick I
March 23rd 2013

I would give this album a 7 out of 10, its very experimental for the strokes in my opinion and i respect that. You can hear alot of 80’s styled sounding beats and just the overall sound has a lot of 80’s in it. Songs like slow animals, and 80’s comedown machine are very original sounding strokes where as Partners in Crime and Welcome to Japan are very 80’s oriented. Theres a lot of diversity in terms of sound to this album for example it goes from classic stokes in slow animals and Comedown machine to a soft style of punk in 50/50 to then a light island styled tune in Call it fate Call it Karma. Overall i think Julian Casablancas has shown the full potential of his voice in terms of him hitting really high notes such as the song One way trigger, with that said i like that kind of singing to an extent but that song was pretty good i would have probably preferred his classic voice but with the same melody in his singing but its still a well written song as far as the chorus. I have read a lot of poor reviews on this album but i think its a solid 7 i found it very catchy but the only thing i would recommend is for their next release is to lean away from the 80’s feel and release some more classic strokes and to also not go to high picked on the singing. Great tunes in this album though

March 23rd 2013

I don’t like how people who have literally done nothing in their lives criticize such bands as the Strokes.

March 25th 2013

The Strokes complete their extreme makeover toward a polished, 80’s-style sound and produce their most enjoyable material in a decade.

March 26th 2013

sadly true words
sounds like something they record against their will
no ideas, bad melodies, noise sinths and nothing left of beautiful guitar riffs

did nick valensi really worked at this?