Two Sides of the Same Coin: The Strokes – Comedown Machine (Rough Trade)
Sometimes we get two reviews on one release, indeed it’s so hard to split them and the album divides opinion that we decide to publish both! What do you think of the new Strokes album? Here are two differing views:
There’s a popular school of thought that says that The Strokes’ first album was their best, and that it has been a diminishing set of returns ever since. It isn’t, however, one I would subscribe to. I personally hold their sophomore album Room On Fire to be their best (yes, I know I’m in the minority. Like, whatever.) Even First Impressions Of Earth had some excellent tracks. But the solo projects and the fourth album Angles left me cold.
So, it’s actually rather great to be able to report that their fifth album sees the band sounding better and more refreshed than they have done in, well, pretty much a decade. There’s an eighties and electro feel to this record, right from the opening ‘Tap Out.’ And it holds its way pretty much through the album which includes other awesome songs like ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘One Way Trigger’ .
I say pretty much, because I’m really not sure about album closer ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ which seems to be from a completely different album, one where hipsters try to recreate a 70s stoner album. No matter. It’s great to hear them sounding like they want to be together. Twelve years on from their debut, Julian Casablancas and the gang show that the faith invested in them all those years ago was justified.
‘What kind of asshole drives a Lotus?’
Presumably an asshole like you, Julian Casablancas, the amount of money you must have added to your already bloated bank account over the past 12 years. I love The Strokes. Why do we love The Strokes? Because of brilliantly catchy tunes – ‘Soma’, ‘You Only Live Once’ and ‘Manu Picchu’ are all sublime guitar pop – Albert Hammond Jr, and that has to be about it.
I was as blown away as any self respecting indie fan in 2001 when they came on like AWOL Nicaraguan plane-hijackers of mainstream radio, from nowhere to a 10/10 rating from the N*E – what a thing to do to any band – sounding fresh, fun, full of melody and scratchy guitars.
But to have made the same sodding album every two years since, to ever-dwindling returns as Casablancas’ voice becomes more and more excruciatingly falsetto in some nightmarish version of retro-cool pastiche. You’re not bloody Prince, you’re a Lou Reed wannabe – act and ‘sing’ like it, or start wearing jumpsuits and make up.
As I said, The Strokes are a great band, and very Pop Art in that scratch-the-surface-and-there’s-nothing-there sense. The vocals are terminally flat, bored, uninspired – yes very Generation Y, but fuck that for a laugh. The music has so bottom-fed from the mid-eighties that there is no real difference between the band and A-Ha or Duran Duran now – the main difference being that Duran Duran were better because they meant it.
Velvet Underground, Television, Beck style, the band are so obsessed with being cool, that cool left the building a long time ago. Get over it, at least do something, anything real, anything not thought through your ridiculously blinkered urbane naff-filter. Enjoy what you like, but stop making tenth generation photocopies of it, for heaven’s sake.
So this is a review borne of love. I love The Strokes, they write incredibly catchy songs (‘All The Time’ and ‘Welcome To Japan’ here particularly). But so does Lady Gaga – the only difference left between the two is in the hipness of their respective PR companies, and of course the nauseating rank ambition of the Gag. Congratulations on making another bouncy, empty, fun, colourful record, esteemed gentlemen of New York. Now please stop thinking so much and do something completely different.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.