Some people have amazing memories. I am not one of those people. I remember very little from more than several years ago, so the memories that I do have are very important to me.
One such memory is a high school bus ride back in 2003. One of my good friends, Joel Buffum, was listening to his cheap portable Casio CD player. Being my curious self, I asked him what he was listening to and he told me it was a band called The Strokes. I asked him what they sounded like and he gave me his headphones. Room On Fire is still one of my favorite albums.
Now in 2013, The Strokes have recently released their fifth studio album entitled Comedown Machine. The first taste of which, was “One Way Trigger”. The Strokes uploaded it onto their website back in January. It’s a definite continuation of the band’s electronic exploration in Angles. I love that they’ve been playing around with a dancier style, while still keeping the essence of their music combined with synth. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t recognize this progression. They see a severe diversion from their past selves. Maybe my bad memory is to blame for my forgiveness of their new approach?
After a confused reaction by fans online (who need to go back and re-listen to Angles), it’s understandable that the album’s second track “All the Time” was the safe choice for lead single. It has that typical Strokes sound from their debut album Is This It? But as much as I like them, I find “All the Time” something that I would only want to listen to some of the time. It’s just too plain.
Instead, I’d suggest “Welcome to Japan” or “Partners in Crime”. They are both songs that hold onto the core of the band’s soul as they develop new methods of delivery. “Welcome to Japan” is classic Is This It? with a 70’s flavor mixed in. “Partners in Crime” is the Room On Fire with more delicate vocals. Perhaps this song would have been the best compromise for fans?
The song, “80s Comedown Machine” hints at the end of an era. Comedown Machine is the last album they are under contract to release with RCA Records. Who knows what the band will do next. Singer, Julian Casablanca, seems to be realizing that he’s getting older and things are changing. Time creates an inner turmoil that makes us want to stay, but plead to “run away.” I really enjoy this calm, conflicted, vague and simplistic, yet layered song.
Long story short, I think some people are unfamiliar with the new direction. They are seemingly unaware of the added value of midi keyboards and Casablanca’s use of falsetto, which is prevalent in “One Way Trigger”. His voice shines, and even awes in the beautifully high melody in “Chances”. Comedown Machine is a great mix of old and new styles and the majority of the album is made up of memorable tracks. Check it out below!