Album Review: Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

by Vanessa Romero on November 11, 2009

julian casablancasAlthough there was already a mini review of the new album by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young, in our New Release Round Up feature last week, I think it deserves few more words coming from one of those “Strokes fans” mentioned.

Truthfully, after the disappointment of the last Strokes album, First Impressions of Earth, I haven’t been as eagerly awaiting a new Strokes album as I would have been before. And especially after hearing some of the solo material by other members of the band, it was obvious that together or separately, the band had a a lot to offer. Now finally an album has been released by the band’s main songwriter and voice: Julian Casablancas, the last member to venture into a solo project.

At first, yes the album may sound like another Strokes effort, especially the opening track, “Out of the Blue” but this may have just been to draw in older fans of the band. The album starts out with spacey synthesizer sounds before getting into the head-boppiest song on the record, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a song that makes me bounce around in my seat.

First single, “11th Dimension” is a good sample of what most of the album consists of: synth happy music. Personally I’m a bigger fan of “Left & Right in the Dark”. Why this song wasn’t made into the first single, I don’t know since I definitely think it’s the most radio friendly song on Phrazes.

“Ludlow St.” stands out the most when listening to this album just for being the sole country-fied effort. The choice in using this sound may have to do with the ballad songwriting format Julian Casablancas choose for a song which the closest I can figure is about gentrification, drinking or both. It’s not a bad song, it’s just surprising with the rest of the album.

The majority of the songs on the album will remind you of the 80’s and not just because of the synthesizers. In both the songs “Glass” and “4 Chords for the Apocalypse,” the bridge suddenly breaks into this power ballad guitar solo. Never being a big fan of hair metal, these songs don’t hold my interest as long as some of the others on the album.

Phrazes for the Young won’t become one of my favorite albums, but I will enjoy dancing around in my room to those key dance tracks on it for a while. I never thought I would use the word “happy” to describe music from Julian Casablancas, but that’s what this is. I’m thinking that time away from that band did him well.

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