"Comedown Machine," the fifth album released by The Strokes, is an apt title. The 11-track record is somehow even less memorable than the band's mildly received 2011 album "Angles." (Name one song off "Angles" ... go!) "One Way Trigger" and "All the Time," the first two songs released from "Comedown Machine" are the best on the album, and neither track is even that good. Even The Strokes seem bored with this material: the band's video for "All the Time" is a compilation of old footage from the group's halcyon days. Is this it?
If it is, Strokes fans can take solace in the fact that there's at least one artist pushing out faux-retro garage rock reminiscent of the New York quartet's best work. Her name is Ke$ha, and you might know her as the Top-40 star who drank her own urine and had sex with a ghost.
Don't laugh too much: "Warrior," Ke$ha's newest album, might be the best Strokes album of the year -- at once more inventive and familiar than anything on "Comedown Machine." Lead single "Die Young," with its "Driver's Seat" guitar riff and hand claps, fits into the '80s aesthetic that Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas has strived to find for his band over the course of the last few records. Same with "Only Wanna Dance With You," an album cut from "Warrior" that sounds like a great, lost Strokes B-side. (It kind of is: Casablancas and drummer Fabrizio Moretti perform on the track.) With a few production tweaks, other tracks like the Iggy Pop collaboration "Dirty Love," the kiss-off anthem "Thinking of You," the Passion Pit-y "Crazy Kids," the "Wild Horses"-y "Wonderland," and even pop radio hit "C'mon," could appear in the Strokes' catalog as well. "C'mon," especially, does something The Strokes haven't really attempted since "First Impressions of Earth": have fun.
Not that Ke$ha's "Warrior" being a great Strokes record means all that much in 2013: The album's sales were abysmal -- "Warrior" didn't even crack the top-five of the Billboard Hot 200 during its first week -- and, with the exception of a controversy surrounding "Die Young," it has been quickly forgotten about.
In that regard, there are no winners here: not Ke$ha, nor her fans looking for more songs along the lines of "Tik Tok"; not The Strokes, nor their fans cringing at the idea of Julian and Co. being owned by a singer who once bragged about "feeling like P. Diddy." It's a vicious circle for all involved parties, really, which means only one thing: If there is a sixth Strokes album, it should, if nothing else, feature a song with Ke$ha. Maybe Iggy Pop can come along too.