• Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Mar 26, 2013
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 172 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 172

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  1. Aug 18, 2013
    5
    [5.5] I enjoyed this album but I realize it's pretty awful. As much as I love The Strokes, I can't in the right mind give this a good score. Hopefully by their next record they'll realize they don't need to change their style. They will only be known for the real rock music that made them.
  2. Sep 14, 2013
    4
    Very disappointing, I was hoping the similarly underwhelming Angles was due to a bit of rustiness but apparently not. Casablancas sounds odd throughout, and too many songs rely on quirky twee high-pitched guitar work that quickly becomes irritating. All the time proves they haven't lost the ability to make brilliant garage-rock anthems but evidently they just don't want to anymore.
  3. May 21, 2013
    5
    “Drifting, you don’t wanna know what’s going down.”

    This line from “Tap Out,” the first song from The Strokes’ new album, Comedown Machine, encapsulates the effect fame and fortune has upon creativity. The Strokes’ first album, Is This It (2001) is widely hailed as one of the most mercurial debut albums of all time: the five New Yorkers unleashed staccato guitars, live drums recorded
    “Drifting, you don’t wanna know what’s going down.”

    This line from “Tap Out,” the first song from The Strokes’ new album, Comedown Machine, encapsulates the effect fame and fortune has upon creativity. The Strokes’ first album, Is This It (2001) is widely hailed as one of the most mercurial debut albums of all time: the five New Yorkers unleashed staccato guitars, live drums recorded such that they sounded as though they’d been forced through innumerable drum machines, a healthy dollop of Velvet Underground mystique, and the reek of stale beer and forgettable sex upon a public long starved of unadulterated rock. The Strokes seemed hungry. Julian Casablancas sang through a fuzzbox, with a blocked nose that belied condensation on windowpanes, cold feet, the sogginess of cold pizza. Nikolai Fraiture on bass began each song’s bass line slowly, as though his fingers were still numb from the draught in his apartment. Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi passed riffs and rhythm lines between them like the final cigarette in the pack: careful not to take too much, but knowingly taking more than they felt they should. And Fabrizio Moretti pounded the bass drum as though hoping to shake the damp from his shoes. Is This It was recorded for almost nothing in a studio with almost nothing in it, with almost nothing on the walls except a tattered poster of a Victoria’s Secret model.

    Twelve years later, and The Strokes have long lost their lean and hungry look. I wanted to love Comedown Machine–they’re one of my all-time favourite bands. Sadly, it sounds as though the band is just “drifting,” willingly ignorant of the downward trajectory their music has gradually begun to take. There is one brilliant song on Comedown Machine, there is a good song, and there are a few blandly all-right tracks.

    This brilliant song is “Welcome To Japan.” On their last album, Angles (2011), The Strokes went in a more electronic direction. The guitars now competed with lush synths in the mix, shifting the music towards disco and away from the angular, brittle rock they’d created earlier in their career. “Welcome To Japan” strikes the perfect balance between the two. A four-to-the-floor disco beat anchors a hauntingly minor-key song– “didn’t know the gun was loaded,” Casablancas plaintively cries. The staccato guitars are back, but only for a little while: the notes gradually go from being distorted and rocky to becoming almost like the airy brushing of the keys on a keyboard. It merits repeated listening, and bears a slight similarity to the stunning “The Chauffeur” by Duran Duran.

    The good song is “Slow Animals.” It has a hushed quality not unlike The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition,” and is sung, like that song, in a gentle falsetto (something Casablancas uses with mixed results elsewhere on the album). The guitars echo; a synth runs up and down arpeggios with dizzying speed. The chorus, however, is jarring. The gentleness is abandoned for rousing, Coldplay-like ululations. Like so many other songs on the album, “Slow Animals” sees the band capture a mood but become too lazy to keep it alive for the song’s duration.

    This wouldn’t be such a travesty if it weren’t for the fact that The Strokes were once masters of capturing a mood. In its finest moments, Is This It conveyed the ringing silence and bleary eyes of the morning after a big night as perfectly as The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” did decades before. Songs on Comedown Machine like “Tap Out” and “All The Time” are evidence of abandoned moods. These songs have the classic elements of Strokes songs–guitar interplay, Casablancas’ hungover croon– but no soul. The chorus of “All The Time” consists exactly of the obliqueness The Strokes founded their image upon: ‘All the time that I need/ is never quite enough.’ The trouble is, it just feels pretentious here. These are the insipid noodlings of musicians who’ve made it so big that they don’t feel the burning desire to make it any more.

    This is the album people make when they’ve become so comfortable lounging by the poolside in Beverley Hills sunshine that they don’t want to lock themselves in a damp recording studio, hungrily creating art while staring at the tattered poster of a Victoria’s Secret model on the wall. However, I feel that when the eulogies of The Strokes are written, Comedown Machine will be cited as the first sign of the ultimately terminal illness that is self-satisfaction.
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  4. Mar 26, 2013
    4
    The Strokes took a turn into more popular music, which sounds like another solo album of Julian Casablancas. Don't get me wrong, The Strokes are doing a fine job, even in this last release Comedown Machine, but they aren't getting closer to what they did at the start of the Millennium. Comedown Machine is well produced one but The Strokes sounds like an old band recording an album withoutThe Strokes took a turn into more popular music, which sounds like another solo album of Julian Casablancas. Don't get me wrong, The Strokes are doing a fine job, even in this last release Comedown Machine, but they aren't getting closer to what they did at the start of the Millennium. Comedown Machine is well produced one but The Strokes sounds like an old band recording an album without any special effort to impress or surprise anyone. That's not what I was expecting from this young fellows (5 Songs Per Artist Blog)

    http://5songsperartist.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/comedown-machine-strokes.html
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  5. Apr 5, 2013
    6
    There is really no point in comparing any Strokes album to Is This It... or even Room On Fire, for that matter. Those two belong in the conversation for "greatest albums of all time" lists. Unfortunately, the three albums since all share the same flaw; the first halves are great, while the second halves are incredibly uneven. While Comedown Machine is guilty of that as well, it is lessThere is really no point in comparing any Strokes album to Is This It... or even Room On Fire, for that matter. Those two belong in the conversation for "greatest albums of all time" lists. Unfortunately, the three albums since all share the same flaw; the first halves are great, while the second halves are incredibly uneven. While Comedown Machine is guilty of that as well, it is less guilty than the previous two. It's a very fun record, and it sounds like it was recorded by a band who gave up trying to recreate Is This It as soon as it hit the shelves. Maybe it's time for us to move on, too, and appreciate them for all that they are; a band that is not afraid to take chances and incredible songwriters and musicians. Expand
  6. Jun 6, 2013
    6
    Unfortunately, it does feel like the Strokes have fallen out of love with this album a bit. It feels pulled together and incomplete which is a pain because it has so much potential. There are some killer tracks on here (namely All the Time and 50/50) but it is inconsistent and I think the boys have a long way to go before they pick up the magic again.
  7. May 15, 2015
    6
    Definitely not their best work. Its the weakest of the five album they put out. Some songs look like sort of "left-overs" from the fourth album Angles. Some other are simply bad tracks. Nonetheless, as any other Strokes LP, there are some really cool tunes here and there (Tap Out, Welcome to Japan, Slow Animals, Happy Ending, 80s Comedown Machine). The problem is that none of the goodDefinitely not their best work. Its the weakest of the five album they put out. Some songs look like sort of "left-overs" from the fourth album Angles. Some other are simply bad tracks. Nonetheless, as any other Strokes LP, there are some really cool tunes here and there (Tap Out, Welcome to Japan, Slow Animals, Happy Ending, 80s Comedown Machine). The problem is that none of the good songs actually can compare themselves to the best songs of Is This It, Room on Fire, First Impressions or even Angles. To put it simply, this thing feels like it was really hard to craft and that Julian and the others struggled to keep it together even in the best parts. Still, my vote is a 6 because, despite the many complains I have,I can say I enjoyed it more than I hated it. Expand
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 45 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 45
  2. Negative: 0 out of 45
  1. 40
    For all the loving homages to past recording techniques, they sound laboured and bored. [May 2013, p.84]
  2. Jun 4, 2013
    40
    It’s wilful experimentation with no pay-off, sounding lonely, old, with only the occasional, tempting flicker of a genius that once burnt bright.
  3. May 10, 2013
    75
    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]