Comedown Machine

  • Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Mar 26, 2013

Generally favorable reviews - based on 45 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 45
  2. Negative: 0 out of 45
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  1. Mar 25, 2013
    The Strokes' most mature music yet, Comedown Machine is a solidly enjoyable album, even if it lacks some of the band's previous spark.
  2. Mar 21, 2013
    It's an LP that finds the band in complete comfort with in their place in the musical universe and willing to stretch out here and there into slightly uncomfortable postures.
  3. 50
    In one sense, it’s commendable that The Strokes are so willing to branch out and take on different styles, yet the effort often sounds overplayed or undercooked.
  4. Mar 18, 2013
    The songs here might take a little longer to unlock than their predecessors, but none of them strike a false note.
  5. While Comedown Machine drags itself through a number of dead zones (most notably the dud pair of the title track and “50 50”), there are moments where they recapture some of what made them a great band.
  6. Mar 25, 2013
    There are an awful lot of ideas swimming through Comedown's 11 tracks--some familiar, others (like Casablancas' new fascination with falsetto) not so familiar.
  7. Mar 26, 2013
    The Strokes’ hallmarks--those lean melodies, that steely interplay among guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. and bassist Nikolai Fraiture, the urgency of Julian Casablancas’s vocals--are largely absent on Comedown Machine, their fifth studio album. In their place is a looseness that’s refreshing enough, until you realize these guys are perhaps running short on ideas.
  8. Mar 25, 2013
    The production on most of Comedown Machine is off-putting in its chilliness.
  9. Mar 18, 2013
    They’ve returned with their most thought provoking, strange and sexiest record yet.
  10. Classic Rock Magazine
    Jun 21, 2013
    For all the loving homages to past recording techniques, they sound laboured and bored. [May 2013, p.84]
  11. Mar 26, 2013
    They’ve tossed a simple, solid album in our lap, thrown up the deuce and strolled out the door, take it or leave it.
  12. Apr 5, 2013
    Fans of Angles should rejoice as Comedown Machine is essentially a refined version of that album’s strengths.
  13. 70
    The risks feel warranted, even if it doesn’t result in something that’s sticky or punchy. This might explain why the album doesn’t carry a single hit.
  14. 80
    While a few songs are leftovers from Angles and some were churned out “like the good old days” as they put it, Comedown Machine is a terrific release to The Strokes first five albums.
  15. Mar 21, 2013
    Comedown Machine has done the best thing The Strokes could have done.
  16. Mar 19, 2013
    The Strokes will never get back the raw magic of Is This It? but, with Comedown Machine, they’ve cast a different spell entirely--one that’s almost joyful.
  17. 42
    The band vacillates between rudderless tone poems ("'80s Comedown Machine"), exhausting rave-ups (the screeching "50/50"), and bizarre A-ha biting ("One Way Trigger"), all of which overflow with incomplete ideas.
  18. Mar 22, 2013
    Comedown Machine is a more even effort [than Angles], but it lacks any show-stopping moments, allowing the forgettable songs to blend together.
  19. Mar 26, 2013
    The results aren’t all winners, but there are gems where you wouldn’t expect them.
  20. Magnet
    May 10, 2013
    Comedown Machine may not quite hit the heights of the band's masterpiece-to-date, but it continues the band's healthy trend of finding curious new ways to twist and complicate its by-now instinctively recognizable sound. [No. 98, p.60]
  21. Mojo
    Apr 10, 2013
    It's a bloodless, disembodied album, rarely flushed with human warmth. [May 2013, p.94]
  22. Mar 22, 2013
    This record is fun, it’s exuberant, and it’s diverse--and yet nothing sounds unnatural or feels crowbarred in.
  23. 80
    It’s flawed, it’s imperfect and it’s downright odd at points, but it is packed with belting tunes. Most of all, it’s fun.
  24. Mar 29, 2013
    Just like the band itself, it presents something of an ongoing identity crisis for the band, one that hasn’t figured out how to advance their sound except to put more meat on the bones.
  25. Mar 28, 2013
    The band can still come up with strong hooks, and some of the 80s guitar rock references hit their mark, but the results are sabotaged by singer Julian Casablancas, who sounds like he’s conserving all his energy and passion for his next solo record.
  26. Mar 26, 2013
    Comedown Machine [is] reliably solid, mostly enjoyable, slightly disappointing for reasons that are difficult to articulate.
  27. Mar 25, 2013
    The deeply uncool Comedown Machine smacks of effort.... Still, the limitations of Comedown Machine's protracted diversity all come back to Casablancas, a man with wide range as a listener and extremely narrow range as a musician.
  28. Mar 25, 2013
    Comedown Machine is an enjoyable album with some great moments, though not a perfect or definitive one.
  29. 75
    The elements are still there, but they aren’t fused in a way consistent with the hopes of those who foresaw The Strokes being the best rock band of our tim
  30. Q Magazine
    Mar 18, 2013
    Comedown Machine is their best album since they hit perfection with their debut. [Apr 2013, p.102]
  31. Jun 4, 2013
    It’s wilful experimentation with no pay-off, sounding lonely, old, with only the occasional, tempting flicker of a genius that once burnt bright.
  32. Mar 18, 2013
    Comedown Machine is basically a solo trip for singer Julian Casablancas, showing yet again how much he respects Eighties New Wave.
  33. Mar 25, 2013
    Comedown Machine remains a pretty good album, possibly the least characteristic thing they've released to date.
  34. Mar 27, 2013
    Rather than give us a full album of "The Strokes Misremember the '80s," the band falls back repeatedly on self-imitation.
  35. Mar 27, 2013
    It is without a plan and without much of an aim, save for vague touchstones in ‘80s pop and new wave, a path tread much more smoothly by Casablancas’ prior solo work.
  36. Mar 26, 2013
    ["Call It Fate, Call It Karma"] provides Comedown with a gorgeous, um, comedown. It’s a surprising ending to exactly the kind of record that will surprise no one--solid, energetic, and with a decent hit-to-miss ratio.
  37. Mar 18, 2013
    On Angles, the band tossed a few tunes out that sounded like carbon-copies of their first album, but on Machine they eschew that kind of market compromise in favor of following their strange muse, even if in the end most listeners will have trouble pegging down who it sounds like.
  38. The Guardian
    Mar 21, 2013
    For the most part, this sounds like a band running low on ideas, or motivation, or the indefinable magic that makes a band a band.
  39. 60
    They're virtually unrecognisable as the band that made their game-changing debut, save perhaps for "All the Time."
  40. Comedown Machine is, essentially, The Strokes' 1980s album.
  41. 40
    The Strokes have shamefully settled for average, and have failed even at that.
  42. Mar 25, 2013
    Full of clever sounds, with melodies butting up against countermelodies and more laughs than you might think, Comedown Machine is by no means a bad record. It just has the misfortune of being the record that few Strokes fans want from them.
  43. Mar 26, 2013
    Nothing on Comedown Machine really sounds natural either; it comes across awkward, hollow, like dead-chemistry trying listlessly to spark.
  44. Uncut
    Mar 18, 2013
    It attempt to meld guitars with '80s Europop much like Phoenix has done, to the extent that single "One Way Trigger" sounds like A-Ha. The experiment is often successful. [Apr 2013, p.78]
  45. Mar 22, 2013
    While it introduces some interesting new ideas to The Strokes' repertoire, there are more clunkers here than anything resembling the dizzy highs of Is This It.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 210 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 45
  2. Negative: 2 out of 45
  1. Mar 27, 2013
    Please do yourself a favor and listen to this album, and try not to compare it to Is This It or Room on Fire because the similarities arePlease do yourself a favor and listen to this album, and try not to compare it to Is This It or Room on Fire because the similarities are minimal. Instead, the Strokes have a produced a thoughtful and strange record that is an absolute blast. It's a fantastic record, and I thoroughly recommend it. Standout tracks like "Tap Out" and "Welcome to Japan" flow greatly into slower pieces like "Slow Animals" and "Chances". No obvious skips, just a great album. Full Review »
  2. Mar 26, 2013
    12 years makes a hell of a difference, doesn't it? The Strokes used to be the picture of sleazy New York City cool; nowadays, they've ditched12 years makes a hell of a difference, doesn't it? The Strokes used to be the picture of sleazy New York City cool; nowadays, they've ditched the denim jackets and untamed afros for tight leather and hair gel. The Strokes used to be hailed as the saviors of rock; nowadays, Julian Casablancas' adoration for 80s synth pop shines more than ever. One thing has remained the same through all these years, though: The Strokes are still The Strokes. Don't get me wrong, there aren't many parts of this album that'll make you recall that "vintage" Strokes sound. The high twangy guitars from "Someday," the detached growls of "Last Nite," and the disorganized defiance of "Take it or Leave It" are nowhere to be found. The stripped-down style that characterized Is This It has been traded for tight production and a fierce attention to detail. Despite this, Comedown Machine feels more like a Strokes album than anything since Room on Fire.

    "50/50," for example, hits you with a ferocity reminiscent of Room on Fire's "Reptilia," featuring a chorus that stretches Casablancas' signature yell to its limit. "Partners in Crime" possesses some of the finest bass work we've seen yet from Nikolai Fraiture and a rhythm guitar line from Albert Hammond Jr. that just does not stop. Ever. You just have to tune yourself in to it. See, The Strokes haven't completely ditched their sound, they've just added to it. Even where they experiment, Julian and the gang still show signs of being that group that captured our hearts in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Opener "Tap Out" and "Welcome to Japan" showcase Nick Valensi's eye for precise melody while still allowing his frontman to question "What kind of drives a Lotus?" in signature croon. Lead track (and don't call it a single unless you feel facing the ire of Is This It apologists who hang on to the early days throwback "All The Time" as a sign that the old Strokes are coming back) "One Way Trigger" is an album highlight despite being far different than anything Casablancas and Crew have ever released. The initial reaction for listeners will undoubtedly be "Wow, this is Take on Me. This is seriously Take on Me." Like much of the rest of the album, "One Way Trigger" is absolutely influenced by 80s pop, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 80s pop was fun. "Take on Me" is fun. I'm sure many of you find yourselves still singing along whenever it comes on the radio.

    So despite all the changing, The Strokes are still fun. Isn't that why we liked them in the first place? We were all so infatuated with New York City sleaze that The Strokes simply allowed us to express our interests through music. In this sense, the 2001 Strokes were a band that made a trend accessible. Perhaps the 2013 Strokes are just trying to do the same? Of course, who knows where they'll go from here, now that their 5 record contract is over and done with? They've given no indication that they want to tour this album, nor have they given it significant press. The entire thing, from the throwback label to the relative haste it was produced with, seems like an "F you!" to the record label. The entire thing reeks of nonchalance, and isn't that as Strokesy as it gets?
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 26, 2013
    It's very different from other albums, but it's really really really good! :D the "Old Strokes fans" are probably going to be pissed, but iIt's very different from other albums, but it's really really really good! :D the "Old Strokes fans" are probably going to be pissed, but i sincerely think it's a great album.

    Songs like "All the Time", "Tap Out", "Slow Animals", the punk "50/50", the ballad "Chances" and even the odd "One Way Trigger" are enough to make this album a great piece of music.

    Totally recommend it!
    Full Review »