Julian Casablancas ? Phrazes For The Young (Rough Trade) 02/11/2009

November 8, 2009 by  

julian casablancas phrazes for the young

The man once heralded as the saviour of Rock’n’Roll, Julian Casablancas, is the last of The Strokes to head-out on his own. Having reigned supreme over his indie rock minions for the best part of the of the early noughties, The Stroke’s front-man has seen his band’s popularity waver somewhat recently and with their music being copied and rehashed by so many substandard bands (The Pidgeon Detectives, The Paddingtons, The Rakes) the future output of the band has been deemed a dubious prospect by many. So it seems inevitable that his solo effort should take a more contemporary direction.

?Phrazes for The Young? is always going to conjure associations with The Strokes, with Julian’ s distinctive New York droll still very much at the forefront of the music it’s hard to not think of the album as a Strokes record. Add to this the methodical and possibly mathematical approach to song writing that Julian still adopts, this really does sound like it could of been the band’s latest effort dressed-up to fit the current musical landscape.

Previous single 11th Dimension provides the most memorable and accomplished moment on the record. A typically catchy hook is accompanied by Julian’s effortlessly cool vocals, but this time bundled-in is an abundance of synthesisers and New Order lead lines, which will probably grate with his existing legions of admirers.

But before you denounce the guy, ?Phrazes For The Young? is undeniably Julian and still so, so cool. Amongst all the synthesisers and beeps can be found the usual references to Julian’s repertoire of influences . 4Chords Of The Apocalypse sounds like a futuristic rendition of The Rolling Stone’s Time Is On My Side and the brilliant Ludlow Street finds Julian penning an ode to drinking over a soundtrack reminiscent of Beck’s Odelay.

Lacking the energy and excitement of ?Is This It?, ?Phrazes For the Young? is a venture in musical progression that contains some real nuggets of Casablanca gold, but doesn’t quite live up to his own standards.


By Chris Cummins