Friday, 22 March 2013

REVIEW: The Strokes - Comedown Machine

'Comedown Machine', that upcoming 5th album from The Strokes is streaming online now. They seem to have taken on 80's funk pop on the opening track 'Tap Out', which does at least provide a pleasing melody. It's actually quite keyboard heavy throughout the record, except for 'All The Time' which reverts to their familiar early style. 'One Way Trigger' is a great song ruined by a bad 'Take On Me'-esque keyboard hook that incessantly burdens itself on the verses. When it disappears during the guitar solo, it's a relief. Then it comes back again. Melodically it is in fact very pleasing, and a very strong piece of songwriting can be found under its stylistic flaws. 'Welcome To Japan' is again dipping into funk, and its chorus is a let down. '50/50' instantly has more of an edge, a bit of danger. In a way it's quite Nirvana-like, but only during its chorus, and certainly not to the point of imitation. Best thing on the record? Yes. 

'50/50' comes in sounding not unlike Ultravox's 'Vienna', before slipping into something rather psychedelic. It's different to anything they've produced before, and they've never sounded so genuinely introspective. Not a hint of rough edged rock n roll anywhere. Again it's dominated by synths and drum loops. How many tracks did the drummer actually get to play on? And is that even Casablancas singing on it? It sounds odd, but could they perhaps be moving forward here? 'Slow Animals' could easily be mistaken for something from the new Foals album, until a typically Strokes chorus arrives. It's not quite really grabbing me in any kind of way, it must be said. 'Partners In Crime' isn't a million miles from The Killers covering 'Drive' by The Cars. That chorus. Why's he singing like that? I don't know whether it's really good or really awful. It's different, that's for sure. 'Chances' is like some kind of bizarre 60's pop song with a chorus that sounds not unlike Stereolab

'Call It Fate, Call It Karma' is not unlike an old easy listening ballad, and also the most truly psychedelic The Strokes have ever sounded. A bizarre closer. I don't know what to think. It's definitely not the same old Strokes, and they're clearly exploring new things. Some of it is unrecognisable from the band who made that debut LP. Despite a run of disappointing albums over the last decade, they've all had their moments. 80's funk and synth pop provide the record with a flavour. Whether the songs are all great is another matter. Maybe they'll grow on me. It's a very odd record in places, and the vocal style voice fronting the group gets stranger yet again. I can't even rate this yet, since I've only heard it once. At the moment I'll give it a provisional 6.5 out of 10.

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