It’s that time again. The once every decade (or so it seems like) return of The Strokes. Like the anticipation of their last three records, Comedown Machine comes with as many questions as answers most importantly being, how much was email involved in the construction of this record? See, The Strokes love their music but being in a room with each other can sometimes be a chore. Regardless of the behind the scenes, it’s good to have the boys from NY back with new music that only The Strokes could produce.
Comedown Machine, much like its predecessors, delves into a multitude of genres and musical decades. The opening salvo, Tap Out, feels immediately very Magnum PI-y. All the Time is a quintessential Strokes song that could fit well on any of the previous four albums. It is The Strokes being very Strokes-y if for nothing else to remind everyone that no one does it better. One Way Trigger could be claimed as a left over from the sporadic Angles sessions. It feels as if Julian birthed this one out on his own and dragged everyone else along for the ride.
80’s Comedown Machine would fit well in tandem with Under Control. Both feel like they encapsulate a high school moment. Just the perfect song to be playing when. Partners in Crime is where Fab gets to shine. The drum beat is equal to some of his best work during the Room on Fire times, back when silly people would ask if they were using drum machines.
Chances sees Julian still sneaking around for his one night stands. Probably a little silly to believe the family man still sees the world this way but I’m sure son Casablancas has lifetimes of stories to pull from memory. 50 50 is as close as The Strokes every come to a straight up power rock number. For my hearing, Julian is doing a nice Iggy Pop homage on this one. Slow Animals is the Life is Simple in the Moonlight moment. A concert of these kind of off beat songs mixed with little Ask Me Anything and that would be a whole new kind of Strokes show to see.
The early highlight of the record for me is Welcome to Japan. With the soon to be hip question to be asked, “What kind of asshole drives a Lotus”, how could this not be one of the better songs to enjoy. Welcome to Japan relates to several Strokes B-side singles in that while they did not always hit the mood of the rest of the record but they did show a different side of The Strokes. The fun side. Certainly, it would be ludicrous to argue that Hawaii or NY City Cops are pieces of rock history when you compare then with 12:51 and Last Nite but it is always nice to see all the faces of a band. Just imagining the NY boys hanging out in Hawaii, just t-shirt and shorts wasting the days away. Everything wonderful relies on moments. Just like Hawaii before it, the band sounds alright. They sound at their apex but still manage to have some fun. When Julian sings, “you did it for fun” maybe, just maybe, he means it. Maybe.
In typical Strokes form, Comedown Machine is weird and diverse enough to fit in several different genres but really only matches with one sound and that is the sound of The Strokes. Maybe there will never be a next time so I’ll enjoy while I can.