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The Strokes! 21st century indie heavyweights, inspiration to every other guitar band since 2001, sporters of some of the most ridiculous haircuts since the English Civil War, and creators of this new record,’ Comedown Machine‘. It’s an album featuring a fair bit of the trademark juddering guitar that you might expect from the New Yorkers, as well as an almost disco edge that runs through the album like the word “Blackpool” in a stick of rock, or more aptly, rot in an apple. The album opens with ‘Tap Out‘, a song that manages to sound both like Foals and Depeche Mode at the same time, rattling out a confusing yet irrefutably appealing beat. Casablanca’s soothing FX-riddled vocals are, as always, impossible to decipher, and it’s a gripping yet confusing start to the album.

The album then moves on to the eagerly anticipated singles ‘All The Time‘ and ‘One Way Trigger‘. The former: an instant classic. The latter: kinda sounds as if ‘Take On Me‘ by Aha fell down a flight of stairs and into a pile of guitars, but with less impressive falsetto. A distinctly better turn is taken with ‘Welcome To Japan‘ and ‘80s Comedown Machine‘, the latter being a smooth, swirling, looming song with soft vocals and active proof that good things come to those who wait.

50 50‘ is a massive whack in the face of ‘Is This It‘ flavoured nostalgia, whilst ‘Slow Animals‘ is just as bland as the name suggests, although with time and effort can be warmed to. ‘Partners In Crime‘ is a jangly, likeable synth-fest that may well incur motion sickness upon consecutivelistens, but the chances of ‘Chances‘ becoming a fan-favourite deteriorate with every languid verse. Things liven up slightly towards the album’s climax, as the semi-ironically-titled ‘Happy Ending‘, and the ’50s-ish lullaby of ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma‘ bring the record to a slightly nicer close than one might expect.

Comedown Machine‘ is clearly a salute to 80s new-wave, a patchwork quilt of the very good and the rather bland. It’s clear the best tracks are more towards the start, in the same way that a firework opens with a flash of colour and sparkles before fading away into the night (The perfect metaphor for The Strokes’ rumoured demise? – Mournful Ed). Nevertheless, the album is pleasant – not earth-shattering or life-changing, but pleasant. A well rounded trip into The Strokes’ clunky time machine.

7/10

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