The Strokes' latest effort appears to have intrigued and confused in equal measure.
The fifth studio album from The Strokes - Comedown Machine - is not Is This It. It sounds nothing like Is This It and frankly shouldn't be uttered in the same breath. This is bad news for Strokes fan-boys who have been waiting for another Is This It...since, well, you know. However, for all Comedown Machine has deflated fans of New York City Cops, Last Nite and Somebody, the 80's new wave inspired record appears to have won favour amongst critics.
The general consensus is that Comedown Machine is not so much a grower, as simply a little difficult to get into, which can often be ultimately rewarding. The BBC said, "The songs here might take a little longer to unlock than their predecessors, but none of them strike a false note." On previous efforts Last Impressions Of Earth and Angles, the songs were either pretty good, pretty unmemorable or pretty bad, and that was it. Comedown Machine appears to strike a different note entirely. Clash magazine called the album the band's "most thought provoking, strange and sexiest record yet," while Q said, "Their best album since they hit perfection with their debut."
Drowned in Sound provide a similar realistic sounding outlook on the album, saying, "The Strokes will never get back the raw magic of Is This It? but, with Comedown Machine, they've cast a different spell entirely - one that's almost joyful" - a view echoed by NME which said, "Most of all, it's fun - a great achievement considering it hasn't looked like fun being in The Strokes for years."
The Strokes At The T-Mobile Launch Of The Sidekick 4G in Los Angeles
Of course, not all reaction was as positive. The Guardian, for example, said, "For the most part, this sounds like a band running low on ideas, or motivation, or the indefinable magic that makes a band a band," and Slate said, "They either sound like their old selves, but less so or they try too hard to be different, with awkward, contrived results."
All in all, it seems like The Strokes' latest attempt not to sound like Is This It without losing the essence of Is This It...has, kind of worked?
The Strokes' fifth studio album Comedown Machine is out now.