The Strokes return with their fifth album Comedown Machine
I always feel The Strokes make it hard for themselves. A blinding first-EP and debut album have been followed up with albums that got progressively worse. And the less said about 'Angles' the better. 'Comedown Machine' is going to split their fanbase even wider. The 80's synth and high pitched vocals employed on Julian Casablanca's solo record feature heavily and whilst there are some tracks with definite Strokes roots, they're few and far between. The two best tracks are the first single 'All The Time' and the Soundcloud released 'One Way Trigger'; different styles but both showcasing that they're bloody talented musicians. There's bits of Bowie in there and 'Slow Animals' could be a Hot Chip song. Can you fault them for trying to progress? Probably not but I feel they're almost indistinguishable from the band that exploded onto the scene with 'Last Nite'.
So although The Strokes are progressing musically, the physical LP is definitely retro. The rough card sleeve is straight from the 80s, complete with old school RCA logo and 8-track cassette style sticker highlighting the 'Extra Strength', 'Splice Free' and 'Professional Standard' materials. The reverse of the sleeve has a blank track listing grid, like the ones you used to get on old 8-tracks and blank cassettes. Strangely, it also has credits for 'Still Life Photography' and 'Original band photography', neither of which are present.
The inner sleeve is retro again; RCA logos at the top and bottom with converging lines to the die-cut centre. What I will say about the inner that that it's definitely not static-free. The record clings to it for dear life. In fact, the record is so static-y that when I turned it over after playing the A-side for the first time, the slipmat came with it! It just attracts dust and each play requires a brush beforehand. The vinyl is nothing special. The pressing seems OK, but the static transferred from the inner means dust and lots of clicks and pops. Retro labels again feature RCA logos, track names and times and a reference to a 'Gold Standard'. Presumably another nod to the 8-track feel of the overall package.
The LP also comes with a CD version of the album. One thing I have noticed is that the EU release has a running time of 39 minutes and 55 seconds whereas the US release has a running time of 39 minutes and 49 seconds. Why the difference? If you know, leave something in the comments. The US version is on 180g vinyl but I don't think this EU pressing is. The US version has a download code for the album rather than a physical CD.
Is it worth buying? Probably not and I'm disappointed in saying that. I wanted to like this album but you're not getting a lot for your hard-earned and you can't rely on the musical content if you're a fan of early Strokes material. I've played this over and over about 6 times and nothing grabs me. And I so dearly want to be grabbed.
- Tap Out
- All The Time
- One Way Trigger
- Welcome To Japan
- 80s Comedown Machine
- Slow Animals
- Partners In Crime
- Happy Ending
- Call It Fate, Call It Karma
Side 1 – BD04016-01 A1 RTRADLP730
Side 2 – BD04016-01 B1 RTADLP730 nick@fluid
Judging by the way the number 1 is written, it looks like the plates were pressed somewhere in Germany but the vinyl was pressed in England by Fluid Mastering.