The Strokes’ last album, “Angles,” left longtime Strokes fans in a state of shock and dismay. It certainly was not an album crafted by New York City’s toughest rock band, but “Angles” did have its moments. The group’s latest release, “Comedown Machine,” takes those moments and spreads them across an entire album.
Compared to “Angles,” this LP represents a better integration of the group’s traditional guitar-driven rock and the new synthetic aesthetic that the band has been trying to weave in.
A prime example of this partial return to classic form is lead single “All the Time.” The track drops the synthesizers entirely, relying solely on a propelling guitar riff and cymbals galore. Lead singer Julian Casablancas also abandons the strange falsetto he’s been playing around with. The result is a traditional Strokes cut in the same vein as 2003’s “Room On Fire” material.
Casablancas immediately reminds listeners of the falsetto’s continued longevity on the following song, “One Way Trigger.” The band generates a peppy sound that works well but lacks the attitude they are known for. The album’s final track, “Call It Fate, Call It Karma,” is a complete departure from The Strokes’ previous work and even the rest of the LP. The song adopts a groovy, sultry and borderline cabaret feel, with Casablancas alternating between his typical vocals and the falsetto. But in this case, the falsetto actually adds a mystifying quality that goes over quite well.
All in all, The Strokes continue to be a mixed bag as far as adhering to an established style and working in new elements. While “Angles” was a quality album in its own right, fans were not prepared for the departure from edgy garage rock. “Comedown Machine” shows a little promise in regards to fans’ ability to grapple with the new sound. 3 stars