NME posts its guide to ‘Comedown Machine’

by Eric Van Dril · 122 comments

NME posted its review of The Strokes’ new record, in a guide-style online post. You can read the full thing here.

I’m going to go line-for-line and pick out what I feel are the most important parts of the review.

But first, a message from Albert about the importance of reviewing a Strokes record on the 10th or 15th listen and not the first, like NME…


Track 1 — Tap Out

Fair warning: broadly speaking, ‘Comedown Machine’ is probably the least-like themselves The Strokes have ever sounded. That’ll be an instant red flag to anyone longing for a return to the aesthetic of the first two albums, but in the name of artistic integrity (read: their frontman’s love of keyboards) they’ve pushed forwards, and ’Tap Out’ is proof that it needn’t be a bad thing.

Track 2 — All the Time

from the way it collapses into motion with a sudden percussive jolt, to Nick Valensi’s serpentine guitar solo, to the unmistakable ‘Room On Fire’ vibe running throughout, this is rock ’n’ roll as only The Strokes can do it.

Track 3 — One Way Trigger

Well it’s certainly… different.

Track 4 — Welcome to Japan

Uh-oh, it looks like someone’s done gone come down with a dose of da funk.

Track 5 — 80’s Comedown Machine

Sure enough, the mellotron isn’t far behind, doing that phantasmal ’Strawberry Fields’ thing which seems to be the instrument’s sole purpose…And it’s all a bit… weird.

Track 6 — 50/50

It seems likely that this’ll become a live favourite, and possibly even a future single: it’s got the same sort of ferociousness and intensity that ‘Reptilia’ was blessed with.

Track 7 — Slow Animals

On an album full of ‘growers’, this is the one song that’s a little ‘meh’.

Track 8 — Partners In Crime

it’s a bit all over the place on first listen, what with sci-fi guitars pinging left and right and no recognisable chorus to set your bearings by, but – as tends to be the case with ‘Comedown Machine’ – you eventually begin to make sense of it.

Track 9 — Chances

“I waited for you, I waited on you, but now I don’t” sings Casablancas in that new falsetto he’s so fond of, seeming to echo the sentiments of those who’ll have given up on the album by this point.

Track 10 — Happy Endings

Another noticably funky cut, with more guitars that sound like keyboards

Track 11 — Call It Fate, Call It Karma

It sounds like it’s been beamed in from the 1940s. Which is not something I thought I’d ever say about a Strokes song, but there you go.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nick February 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

I have had this theory that I like to put behind The Strokes in their evolving sound in relation to their album collection. I like to think of the first three albums as a separate trilogy (the original, untouchable 3). Then you have the five year gap in which they time travel a little closer to the modern age and wind up in the 1980’s. They return with Angles the first album of a new trilogy in which they are experimenting with this ’80’s new wave stuff. I believe Comedown Machine will be a more polished Angles, much like Room on Fire was the more polished Is This It. Therefore, leaving the opening for the 6th album which will be the FIOE to this reinvented ’80’s Strokes. Then perhaps another trilogy after that? I cannot say, but I think they will have at least 6 albums before they call it quits for good.

2 the modern age February 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

@Nick. Interesting! I have heard ITI, ROF and FIOE “the big 3” and I love how you called them “untouchable”. Makes sense they’re a trilogy (probably inadvertantly). We shall see.

I’m starting to think they’ll continue after CM too, but with a different label and different vision. Remember Julian said in 2011 he thinks everyone wants to be in the band for their whole lives. I’d love to see more from them, plus b/c I really don’t think we’ll ever get another disjointed record like Angles. They surely weren’t pleased with it as a whole, especially Julian since he seemed so unhappy all of 2011. Anyway, I’m so pumped for CM!!

Hey, who do you guys think will interview on Zane Lowe?

3 adagio February 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm
4 AndyCasablancas February 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Sounds like classic strokes to me!

5 Tommy Pickles February 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Someone describe it to me! I’m on my phone and I won’t be able to hear it anytime soon

6 the modern age February 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

@TP, vocal line is like a kite in the wind, up and down in waves. Sorry that doesn’t help so much!!!

7 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Guys!!! Is this for REAL?!!!

8 adagio February 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Tommy Pickles
well basing on 28 seconds of preview it sounds like ROF song with wery familar guitars and Julians croon

9 the modern age February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Do I hear a little Ramones-ish motif in the beginning or am I making that up? Please don’t yell at me I’m just guessing! The chord progression is different for them in the kite vocals part.

10 ANDRES February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm


11 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

@MA Hahaha!! that’s a pretty good description! 🙂

12 A Minor 4-4 February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

It’s Real =D

13 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Kite vocals! LOL! I think it sounds GREAT!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂

14 the modern age February 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Where is Matt? He always has something to say about stuff like this 🙂

15 Anth February 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Phew! That 28 seconds Kicked ASS!

16 the modern age February 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

It’s beautiful!

17 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Where is DRACULA’S LUNCH??!! and LillySu and Tourist and Ted?


18 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Sorry for all the crazy CAPS – I’m just SO EXCITED!!

19 Anth February 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

And the cover rules too!

20 but julian i'm a little bit older than you February 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Big sigh of relief! Haha awesome preview

21 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I didn’t even notice the cover! LOL! It IS cool! I love the whole retro thing!

22 Annie 1251 February 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I am sending an email RIGHT NOW to my local alternative radio station and demand they play this song!!! I’m not kidding!

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