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March 24, 2013

The Strokes Strike Again

Stream this quintessential New York band’s new album, Comedown Machine, out this week

By Nancy Staab

A new albums by Aughts band The Strokes proves that 80’s synth-music still has currency

Lead singer Julian Casablancas of The Strokes Lead singer Julian Casablancas of The Strokes

NYC garage band, The Strokes, are back with a band new album, the same cool dishevelment, same attitude, and lead singer Julian Casablanca’s trademark falsetto-to-snarl vocal trajectory. Their fifth and latest album Comedown Machine, out March 25, is less raw, lo-fi, and guitar-driven than their smashing 2001 debut Is This It, but it still rocks. There is a definite pop synth-laden, New Romantics, 80’s vibe to the whole album from the very A-Ha-esque (as many critics have noted) hook of “One Way Trigger” with its lovelorn line “You asked me to stay, but there’s a million reasons to leave” to the title track “Comedown Machine,” which also works a slow-tempo, lovelorn vibe with echoes of Splitz Enz, or maybe Howard Jones, or even Pete Yorn?

 Lyrics are never The Strokes’ strong suit but many of the song hint obliquely at soured or unrequited love. Perhaps the catchiest song on the album is “Chances.” It’s catchy, raspy, reminiscent of The Killers, and memorable. There’s some old-school Strokes aggression in “50/50”—a bone thrown to old fans, but most of the songs work new/old 80’s style territory. The final song “Call it Fate, Call it Karma” is something of a conundrum with wistful, old-time jazzy bits thrown in a la Tom Waits, ---a parallel made by at least one critic.

Clash magazine reviewer Kieran Mayall calls it the band’s “most thought-provoking, strange and sexiest record yet.” Sexiest? We are not sure about that… but it is tender and slightly melancholy (is Casblanca’s nursing a bruised heart?) and does have more hits than misses for most Strokes folks. Overall it's more a come-on than a comedown.

The Strokes album Comedown Machine is out March 25. No word yet of a band tour. Stream the entire album in link below:

 pitchfork.com/advance/48-comedown-machine/

The Strokes The Strokes