Comedown Machine takes bold steps forward

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Strokes successfully tap into retro New Wave sound[/pullquote1]

BY TESS MELCHREIT ’14
Contributing Writer

Sometimes, I just don’t know how I feel about The Strokes. The band’s debut release in 2001, Is This It, was incredible. It presented a fresh, new grunge sound that quickly carried The Strokes to the top as America’s best modern-day rock band. Over the years, however, the band has started to lose that unclean sound that made listeners fall in love with it in the first place. Each new album release is highly anticipated but, in the end, collects criticism and dispenses a measure of disappointment.

The band’s newest release, Comedown Machine, falls into this category of being highly anticipated but ending up not quite being The Strokes you want. Every release after Is This It has one thing in common, however: listeners don’t fall in love with the album immediately, but eventually it really grows on you.

Comedown Machine is no different. It is certainly an album that needs to be experienced with an open mind. The album starts strong with “Tap Out,” in which lead singer Julian Casablanca’s experiments with falsetto. It’s a huge leap, especially in comparison to the growly vocals on Is This It, but nonetheless works on this track. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for “One Way Trigger” or “Chances.”

The band dabbles in 80s New Wave for the majority of this album, and it does work on several tracks. The band seems to hit a good groove on “Welcome to Japan” and “Partners in Crime,” and I’d recommend either to someone trying to let Comedown Machine grow on them. “80’s Comedown Machine,” the somewhat-title track of the album, is a good effort at the New Wave sound, but The Strokes’ aim at dreamy and loose just comes across as dragging and a bit lazy.

However, Comedown Machine isn’t without its easy-to-love tracks. Halfway through the album, The Strokes give us “50/50,” definitely their best track. Perhaps its standout quality stems from the way it brings listeners right back to The Strokes of 2001, with that signature grunge sound that’s been fading out of its work over the past few albums.

[three_fourth]Comedown Machine, although not the best work we’ve seen from The Strokes, is not without its high points, and the band definitely deserves recognition for its amazing willingness to break out of an established sound and play around with an uncharacteristic New Wave vibe. The New Wave experiment doesn’t work for them throughout the entire album, but where it works, it works.[/three_fourth]
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Review Rating:
B
New album doesn’t compete with old material but takes bold strides.

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Questions? Email Tess at amelchre@fandm.edu.

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