The follow up to 2011’s ‘Angles,’ begins with Tap Out. A screeching guitar intro makes way for a groove straight from the Michael Jackson collection. Front man Julian Casablancas sings with a refreshing soft tone and the inter-wound guitars and drums are ever-present. Nikolai Fraiture on bass acts as melody maker in parts and creates a wonderful texture under the surface.
All The Time packs itself full of reverb, not very unlike that of the Vaccines. It’s raw, and in need of a little polish. They follow-up with One Way Trigger and it carries with it a megaphone of circus sounds. Sadly though, it becomes a little forgetful after a while.
Welcome to Japan is the first true sign of the Strokes plucky spirit; it possesses a beautifully combined rock and dance combination. Elements of Chromeo evaporate into interchangeable choppy guitar riffs with monotone vocals, before Casablancas launches a neat melody and Albert Hammond Jr blasts a cheeky solo in lieu with their style. Without any doubt, here lies the best track on the album.
With ‘Comedown Machine’ being their fifth studio album, The Strokes are in the midst of a period where experimenting is expected; whether it be welcomed or not. 80’s Comedown Machine declares the minimalist approach, but the track is poorly executed and goes absolutely nowhere. However, Partners in Crime starts with a wacky, hypnotic guitar wail and introduces an elegant little song, with Beatles-esque sitar and all sorts of spacey creations invading the track. This is what is supposed to happen when a band have been down the beaten road and are looking to create something unmarked.
Closing with Call It Fate, Call It Karma, again it seems to have gone wrong. Nothing bites at the listener here; it’s as if listening through a rather thick wall. Apparently the title is taken from a Bill Murray quote in Ghostbusters! – The only positive there.
Bassist Nikolai Fraiture recently revealed Julian Casablancas recorded his parts together with the band, a change from the fractured process of making the last album. Good news then for Strokes fans, and while ‘Comedown Machine’ may not reach previous heights, it is at least a colourful, synth driven experiment with the potential to be a grower.