in Review

Set Phrazes to Stun

Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

How long must we wait for a new Strokes album? One was supposedly in the works earlier this year when all of a sudden things came to a halt. One rumor was that it was because Albert Hammond Jr. went to rehab but that was never clearly verified. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime next year which is already sounding awesome with new albums from; Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, MGMT, Spoon to name a few. 2009 appears to be slowing down but at least I have this synth excursion to muse on for a little bit

Yes it’s Julian Casablanca’s debut solo album, which makes him the second member to release a solo album after Albert Hammond Jr. (I guess he just gets all the attention these days). As Julian is the primary songwriter of the gang, I can only assume that these are tracks that he believed didn’t quite fully represent the New York quartet’s garage rock chic sound.

So he throws in a whole caboodle of synths and beat machines here and there but with that same ol’ crooner voice and robotic arrangements, this sounds more like a a collection of Strokes b-sides than anything else. There’s definitely some standout tracks such as the leadoff single “11th Dimension” with it’s infectious keyboard riff but there’s a handful of tracks that just fall flat. Jules’ melodies just don’t seem to go anywhere, so many of them have the most predictable chord progressions, like he’s just making it up as he goes along.

But I don’t want to sell this album short. Sure I have my problems with but it’s got it’s moments. The production by Jason Ladder with some help from Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes is just excellent. The sounds produced on this album are a real blast to the past. Guitars that sound like A Flock of Seagulls mixed with punchy 80s beats and synths that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Megaman game. It’s a real trip to try and pick out every single instrument and it’s complexity makes it an album worth returning to. You know the more I listen to it the more I warm up to it, maybe over time I’ll have a better appreciation but for now it’s just a fun little distraction.

Favorite Tracks: “11th Dimension”, “Glass”, “Left & Right in the Dark”