Thoughts on the new Strokes album ‘Comedown Machine’

In Music by Ned Hepburn / March 20, 2013
  • “Comedown Machine” sounds like the kind of thing a band releases when they’ve officially stopped giving a shit.
  • Gone are the solid ‘songs’ of their first two albums. This is a pastiche of things that don’t quite fit together. It is a quiltwork of failure.
  • It sounds like they made the entire album on Ambien.
  • The album starts with a really weird guitar squawk, and then transitions to a song that sounds like the band Phoenix.
  • However, the band is not Phoenix. It is The Strokes. I used to be a MASSIVE fan of the band. But this whole album is trying so far to not sound like themselves that it’s just plain fucking awful.
  • “Call It Fate Call It Karma” is the worst song they have ever released, by a long shot. It is so terrible that the entire band, and everything they have worked for over the last 10 years, may have been erased by this song. This one song. If it was released on SoundCloud by a teenager, it might be great. But it is released by a major band. Where the fuck is their “Take It Or Leave It”? Not to try-and-get-them-to-go-back-to-their-old-sound or whatever, but my god, it’s like they just don’t give a shit anymore.
  • There is laughing at the end of one song. Perhaps it’s them laughing at you for buying it.
  • Perhaps not.
  • My theory is that this is actually a Julian Casablancas solo album and that he’s had carte blanche over everything. Listen: it’s no secret the guy can write a song. But this – this stuff on here – every track is overproduced and with no clear single. There’s too many things going on here and no direction at all. This whole album was recorded without anyone saying “no”.
  • The fact of the matter is that the album just isn’t good. It has moments, like the second song “All The Time”, which are pretty great, although if they’d released an entire album that sounds like that we’d accuse them of sounding the same. But the rest of the album sounds fucking insane. There has to be a middle ground. This hits extremes from song to song. It isn’t good, man. It really isn’t.
  • This is most apparent on lead single (!!!!????) “One Way Trigger” which is the most schizophrenic song on the album. It. Is. Shit. It sounds like The Cars being played at double-speed with Julian’s balls in a vice.
  • I’m mad at them. They can work together and they can do better than this. What happened to the band we used to love?