Released on 25th March, the highly anticipated fifth album from The Strokes might provoke different reactions among listeners. Those hoping for an exact replica of 2001’s Is This It will be disappointed, although tracks ‘All The Time’ and ‘50/50’ are reminiscent of the garage rock sound of the band’s earlier albums. Fans who have matured along with the band, however, ought to appreciate an album that boasts a stylishly diverse track list.
The Strokes posted the synth-happy ‘One Way Trigger’ online in January, with many critics comparing it to frontman Julian Casablancas’s solo material, in addition to noting the reference in the song’s synth hook to A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’. Casablancas’s at times screaming falsetto combined with drummer Fab Moretti’s driving snare pattern gives the song energy, and the overall effect is that ‘One Way Trigger’ is not only unique among its fellow album tracks, but in fact sounds extremely different to any other Strokes song.
As usual, the interplay between guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr is a highlight of the album. The pair exchange intricate melodies throughout the song ‘Tap Out’, giving it a relatively mellow feel, which is broken only by a somewhat heavier distorted guitar solo halfway through. Valensi and Hammond, Jr also combine brilliantly on ‘Slow Animals’ – the syncopated lead guitar plays off the steady progression of the rhythm guitar, giving the song a jumpy feel that builds to lively chorus, complete with catchy guitar hook.
The album comes to a close with the peculiar ‘Call It Fate Call It Karma’, featuring more falsetto vocals from Casablancas, although sounding far more distant and dream-like than those on ‘One Way Trigger’. The amusing last thirty seconds of the track find the band playing around with an acoustic guitar riff, which sounds strangely like something from the Django Unchained soundtrack.
Comedown Machine is a highly enjoyable album that moves in some interesting new directions away from 2011’s Angles. With The Strokes now having fulfilled their contract with RCA Records, there is talk of this being the final Strokes album, and if this were the case Comedown Machine would not be a bad note to go out on. That being said, it would be a shame not to hear Casablancas & Co further explore some of the more unique styles featured on the album.