The Strokes | Comedown Machine | Rating: 7/11 | Reviewed by: Rodney Schmidt |
When musicians decide that they have had their fun, they have done what some have never done, and they are tired of living the life of the party, they look to the record company to write them huge advances. The band shows no care for how the record does, the band does no promotion, and the band goes back home without performing a single pre-release party to exhibit the bands new hard work. That is the direct definition of the Strokes new record, Comedown Machine.
The Strokes continue to acknowledge their sloppy approach to the construction of their music with simple lyrics that make no sense and possess no real connection to the lyrics that follow it. The eleven song record personifies the emergence of these once reckless rock stars, into mature adults. Sadly, the adults they have become refuse to run out into the streets in a drunken haze of partying; instead they contemplate pathetic memories that seem stale to the listeners. Words like, “Find a job/Find a friend/Find a home/Find a dog…” on song “One Way Trigger” make it clear that these once party seekers, are nothing more than stable family members with everything a stereotypical life from the 1950’s has. Listeners will be left with the taste of sellout musicians whom clearly slapped a record together for the pure joy of their materialism.
It isn’t all bad, however. Their first single “All the Time” plays out like a classic Strokes song, a song that might have been written for Room on Fire but didn’t make the cut. The song consists of catchy guitar riffs, clean basic drum beats that made the band great, and most importantly, it has an almost belligerent Julian Casablancas singing, “You’re livin’ a lie/ You’re livin’ a lie.” Such aggression is what the fans loved in their first albums. Casablancas’ fury in the microphone is what showed everyone this band is a great force of power. “Partners in Crime” is easily one of the best songs on the record. It flows smoother than anything the Strokes have put out since their 2005 record First Impressions of Earth. The lyrics makes little to no sense, but in some ways, that was their style – “I’m on the guest list / We got the door, but can’t seem to find it / Pants on a tiger.”
Comedown Machine has its highs and lows throughout the album. Some songs seem like they were left on the back burner from their 2011 recordAngles, and now are slapped on this record to fill space. Sometimes the songs seem too simple and the lyrics don’t come across as anything more than a weary musician trying to fill space in a three minute time structure. The record sounds like classic Strokes, except the fact that it is lacking substance. Not substance abuse, which was nice within many classic Strokes songs, but real substance when it comes to their craft. Lead singer Julian Casablancas produces barely any real energy throughout the record. At times it seems like Casablancas might have recorded his part on a couch and then sent it back to the record company for mastering. The record makes the band come off as a bunch of jaded pompous jerks that don’t seem to care anymore.There are definitely great songs with their usual catchy classic rock and roll style, but sadly the record is nothing new. It could have worked if it wasn’t the Strokes.