Julian Casablancas needs no introduction, yet journalistic values insist I give him one. This kind of contradiction is an apt paradigm for this album and review. In Phrazes For The Young, the front man from The Strokes has produced a body of work that I would hate (if I were not a Strokes fan), but I don’t (because I am). I can’t shake the teenage self that was instantly infatuated by the vacuously cool Manhattan socialites upon the release of Is This It. So much so that I refused to dislike the two subsequent albums, even though they were clearly inferior. They lacked the impact of the debut, but they had a debonair personality of their own. I relay this as a warning of the rose-tinted glasses that I approach listening this album wearing.
The Strokes’ legacy is a funny one. Having set the style agenda for TopMan for the last ten years, their other achievement can only be having been beaten to death by their own hype stick. The Strokes will always be the band that didn’t realise the potential that the critics attached to them. We hear a possible an introspection of which in the opening lyrics, “Somewhere along the way my hopeness turned to sadness.” I say, so what if Casablancas’ offering plays as a sub-par tribute to The Strokes, that is his schtick. Indeed, a schtick that has so far earned him and his band members a ton of money and adoration. Predictably, Phrazes For The Young doesn’t stray too far from the schtick, but does coat it with a veneer of synthpop. It certainly does feel like the continuation of a dialogue that was started in a Lower East Side coffee with his band members. The trademark nonchalant Casablancas vocals are present, as are The Strokes’ interpretation of 70s CBGB guitar riffs but so are drum pads, and cheesy keyboard sequences that ebbed their way into First Impressions. It seems that what Casablancas does do without the presence of his bandmates is produce longer songs. Most songs here hover around the 5-minute mark, which is a full two minutes longer than anything in The Strokes repertoire. If Strokes branded releases now only please their avid fans like me, an extra two minutes to each song is greatly appreciated.
This album will certainly divide parties, he certainly won’t be winning over any music listeners that refused to digest previous Strokes offerings, but for the completists out there, the continued dialogue of Mr Julian Casablancas is welcome.
In the new fangled world of the web – providing you have the appropriate technology – Amelia’s Magazine are in the position to offer you live streaming of Phrazes For Young below. How modern we are.
Julian Casablancas is venturing to these shores in December to tour the album. Get your fingers ready to jump on the announcement of these tickets going on sale some time in the near future. The dates are:
11th Dec – Manchester – Ritz
12th Dec – Glasgow – ABC
14th Dec – Dublin – Academy
16th Dec – London – Forum
Categories ,album, ,Indie, ,julian casablancas, ,synths, ,the strokes
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