Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village are steeped in rock’n’roll history – the birthplace of countless classic albums. These days it’s a studio where bands seem to go to exorcise the trappings of our processed age and return to basics.
The Strokes have come out of there with Comedown Machine, an album full of noises off, tape clunks and background fuzz, a record which attempts to ingrain itself with analogue bric-a-brac. These retro touches are nice enough, but the sense that they’re being deployed to cover up stale material is difficult to shake off.
One Way Trigger is A-ha’s Take On Me at double time; the high-register vocals and funky licks of Welcome To Japan and Tap Out ironic fusions of soft rock and disco; 50⁄50 a pale phoned-in imitation of their early work.
All of which would be fine if the band had successfully retained their combination of snarl, humour and melody. But for all the loving homages to past recording techniques, they sound laboured and bored. Nothing here would make a C90 of The Strokes’ best tracks.