Julian Casablancas – Phrazes For the Young


Most people in Julian Casablancas’s position would probably be creatively paralyzed. It was just a decade ago after all that he and his bandmates in The Strokes were being pitched as the defining band of the new millennium. Now he’s trying to redefine himself independent of his former band and in the face of a public that eyes him now with just mild curiosity. Give him credit then that Phrazes for the Young is the outpouring of anything but a paralyzed man.

Phrazes is all over the map. Though much of the album relishes in ’80s nostalgia it’s expressed in very different ways. “11th Dimension” is almost a full-blown Tiffany-esque mall-pop tune while “4 Chords of the Apocalypse” borrows some soul sensibilities and actually features a damn fine vocal performance. Album opener “Out of the Blue” actually recalls early Strokes in that it recalls classic Tom Petty.

Even at only eight tracks Phrazes is absolutely dizzying. Each song is packed — over-packed really — with ideas that Casablancas didn’t have the restraint to leave out as synthesizers and guitars layer over each other to form an ocean of noise. The songs are kitschy and often endearing — Casablancas leaves no doubt about his songwriting chops — but the airtight production renders the album humourless. Casablancas need look no further than his own lyrics for advice: “You are looking for your own voice but you’re nervous…. Drop your guard you don’t have to be smart all of the time.”