Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

Review Score: 8.3

The Strokes have been on a hiatus since 2006 and in the meantime all but one of the five members have branched out into side projects or solo work. Now that frontman Julian Casablancas has also kicked of his solo career the prospect of another Strokes album seems ever so distant, which perhaps is all for the best, as the chances of them pulling off another Is This It are slim at best.

First off, Phrazes for the Young is not The Strokes done solo. For his debut Casablancas all but abandons his garage roots and goes for catchy 80s influenced new-wave and synth-pop. If the 70s were the main Is This It influence, then Phrazes for the Young moves on to the next decade. In a way its exactly what you’d expect from a solo album. It is fundamentally different from Strokes material and it explores Casablancas’ personality, preferences and musical influences.

As a whole the album is solid with no immediately evident weak moments, and at only 40 minutes long it sits pretty at that sweet spot between too short and too long. Casablancas’ voice range has also improved and his singing carries the instruments adequately, on Glass he even goes off into a falsetto before the unexpected classical synth solo comes in.

In 2001, following overwhelming critical support, Casablancas and his colleagues were poised on becoming the next biggest rock stars out there, but like it did with bands like The Stone Roses before them, the pressure of the big debut all but strangled The Strokes from ever creating anything that good again. Out of the Blue, the album’s first song, opens with four transformations. From hopefulness to sadness to bitterness to anger to vengeance. If Phrazes for the Young is Casablancas’ vengeance, then its a damned good one and the best Strokes related release since Is This It.


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October 2009
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