Some of you might remember and still listen to This is it, the in 2001 released debut album of the legendary New Yorkers THE STROKES. It was doubtless one of the best garage rock records of the early 21st century and differentiated them from other bands of that time like THE HIVES or THE VINES. But having such a brilliant debut record sets high expectations and what followed were loads of critics to their three more LPs, especially to 2011 released Angles, which marked a change of style for THE STROKES – but artists grow with their music and if you already have written so many songs it’s hard to make them special when being faithful to your own style.
Now, more than eleven years after their debut they come up with a new album named Comedown Machine, the last record via label RCA, as their contract with them is running out quite soon. Of course Comedown Machine is not as great as This is it, but however it’s one of their good ones and you can immediately hear that you are listening to THE STROKES, not just because of Julian Casablancas unique voice. It is pop-inflected, still has the prickly guitars and the grooving backbeat, and like Angles it is quite new wave. It is full of happy and good mood tracks. But there are also slow paced songs to find on it. Fortunately this time the band recorded their songs in the studio together again, and not separated like for their last LP.
The opening song Tap Out starts with a rough and strange outburst of guitar and continues rhythmically, smooth and gentle. Julians’ voice is surprisingly high. All The Time is definitely the peak of the album – it is definitely Stroke-rock at its best – the way it gets into motion, the fantastic guitar solo, the profound lyrics and the special vibe reminding of 2003’s Room On Fire.
One of the other outstanding tracks of Comedown Machine is the shortest song of the record called 50/50. It is a nasty, loud and rocking song and could get one of your live favourites if you like it a bit mad. “You don’t have to be so loud everyone can hear you in this whole damn crowd” seems not just to my the lyrics also the motto of the nice and tranquil song Slow Animals. Happy Ending is literally one of the funky songs on the record. THE STROKES show that they are masters of making guitars sound like keyboards in this song. The last track Call It Fate, Call It Karma sounds surprisingly 40s with its piano and is a generally a smooth relaxing song where you can close your eyes and dream away.
In general Comedown Machine is worth a buy for everyone who loves the previous THE STROKES records, who grew up with them and most import who wants to grow with them. They have evolved, of course they have, but it’s still Stroke-Rock. And maybe it’s the final time we hear new material from the guys. Since their contract is running out and they already mentioned that they have no interest in touring the album, this, well, might be it if you believe the rumours. Another reason to get hold of this record. You may not like every track at first listen, but trust me, if you listen to it again and again you will find something positive and special in every song. Quite impressive because most of the time it’s the other way round and a song is nothing special anymore after a lot of plays. All in all it would be lovely to have them stick around a bit longer.
Stream the entire album now over at Pitchfork Advance.