x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Comedown Machine sees The Strokes breaking new ground

This is the quintet's most intriguing record to date, with Julian Casablancas fully back in the fold.

The Strokes

Comedown Machine

RCA/Rough Trade


Last time around, on their less-than-rapturously-received 2011 album Angles, The Strokes appeared in disarray. Tales of disconnected studio sessions, with their vocalist Julian Casablancas and his band mates communicating via email, sounded like a how-to guide on creating a joyless record. Was this it for the New Yorkers?

Not quite, it seems. Comedown Machine finds the quintet in an infinitely better place and, with Casablancas fully back in the fold, his influence is writ large once again.

At times we're on territory nearer his 1980s solo set Phrazes for the Young. One Way Trigger, indeed, threatens to break out into A-Ha's Take on Me at any moment, while 80's Comedown Machine is wholly self-descriptive.

Certainly, fans who climbed onto the bandwagon during their debut Is This It might scratch their heads. Casablancas's trademark brash drawl has largely departed and the curve-ball closer Call It Fate, Call It Karma sonically ventures toward New York City in Boardwalk Empire era. Comedown Machine isn't a return to The Strokes' leather-jacket-clad pomp, but an overflowing new-found expansiveness. It is arguably their most intriguing transmission to date.

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