Comedown Machine serves as a misleading title to what is the follow up to 2011’s disappointingly mundane Angles. Immediately ‘Tap Out’ asserts a squealed authority over your average indie band. Casablancas’s lazy drawl has become an integral part of Propaganda club nights over the past 10 years, but his voice doesn’t seem nearly as tested or strained on this record as it has done in the past.
It’s a classic ndie album in all respects, impeccable fretmanship, that all important slow one and generally sharp, intelligent lyrics that delve into the deeper aspects of life as a frontman nowadays, namely “what kind of asshole drives a lotus”. ‘50/50’ stands out as a storming return to their early indie punk rawness, distorted vocals scream the chorus over a driving muted rhythm that could be London Calling’s bonus track.
Critics have coined 2013 as the new dawn for guitar music; well, it’s not quite the Return of the Riff just yet but we’re getting there, and The Strokes have mustered everything they’ve got. Sort of. If nothing at all it’s a suave album that’s laden with potential singles for the indie kidz shag playlist – although none that likely to have anywhere near their past success. Having said that, ‘Chances’ is retro perfection, one of those rare songs from a rock band that genuinely provoke an emotional response. Ironically for a Comedown Machine it’s incredibly easy to listen to this album with a nostalgic smile on your face: almost every song is suitably catchy, especially ‘Happy Ending’ with its poly-layered build up and rising vocals all held in place by Moretti’s poundings. Although the album closer kind of shits on The Strokes fan, it’s a jazzy failure that has no purpose.
The Strokes have stated that they won’t be touring in light of their new record, which begs the question: do they have any faith in themselves anymore? As much as they may have impacted upon indie music in the early 00’s and are still superior musically to any Fred MacPherson monstrosity, the fact is they’re done. Comedown Machine certainly stands up as an album you’ll have on repeat for a month or two, and it even passes the test that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have any of the songs come on shuffle at a party. The issue with The Strokes these days, though, is that you’re always questioning… Is This It?