Julian, we need to have a talk about your bandâ€™s new album. I just donâ€™t understand what youâ€™re doing. The synths and new waviness, the extreme falsetto, the lack of guitar, and that bizarre, old timey song at the end of the record â€“ whatâ€™s going on here? What happened to the Strokes?
When Is This It, The Strokesâ€™ debut album, was released in the fall of 2001, rock fans were blessed with an album full of true rock and roll gems. The album has a distinct point of view and featured instant classics like â€œLast Niteâ€ and â€œSomeday,â€ which had sharp, catchy, stuck-in-your-head guitar riffs, punked-out drums and Julian Casablancasâ€™ twisted croon. He was the â€˜00s answer to a Jim Morrison figure with a hit of Iggy Pop and a lot of wonderful grit. With the help of bands like The White Stripes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Hives, The Strokes launched a much-needed garage rock revival.
And now, we have the Strokesâ€™ most recent album, Comedown Machine. â€œAll The Time,â€ the albumâ€™s first single, was my introduction to Comedown. Although I donâ€™t dislike this song, itâ€™s just an OK song, not a great one. My biggest problem with it is that thereâ€™s very little passion. It sounds as if someone programmed a computer to write a Strokes song.
Then we make our way onto songs like â€œOne Way Triggerâ€ and â€œWelcome to Japan,â€ which crank up the synth and falsetto. Personally, Iâ€™m not a huge new wave fan. Music from bands like a-ha and The Human League make my ears bleed and Iâ€™d prefer to pretend that that genre from the â€˜80s never happened.
But, I get their point. They wanted to try something different. Theyâ€™re perhaps tired of writing the same kind of rock music and wanted to branch out a bit. But instead of creating an album with a new, clear point of view, theyâ€™ve created an album that just seemsâ€¦lost. It wanders and experiments with sounds and genres. It makes an attempt, but in no way does this feel like a finished, cohesive record.
There are a few saving moments on the album though. â€œ80â€™s Comedown Machineâ€ has some simple, beautifully-crafted synths that highlight Julianâ€™s vocals nicely. â€œ50/50â€ is a cool punk rock song that features a gritty, distorted vocal and hooky guitar riffs. â€œPartners in Crimeâ€ has more of a classic Strokes feel to it with tight guitars and a distinct direction.
But then we return to songs like â€œSlow Animalsâ€ and â€œChances,â€ which seem more dated than an 80â€™s prom dress and make me cringe.
What happened, Strokes? What happened to the great rock music you guys used to make? Or is this only a phase? God, I hope so.