Does anyone remember that little band from New York....oh what were they called The Strokes or something like that...of course you remember them, they were the epitome of cool back in my student hay days what with the worn out leather jacket, husky voice, messy tussled hair, skinny jeans and old converse with the swagger of a can't really be bothered but I'll show up and please the crowd rock star...my God it almost brings a tear to my eye...those were the days my friend...but now it's 2009 and with the band on unofficial hiatus since 2006 we've witnessed a few members pursuing various side projects and Agyness Deyn amongst other things...Julian Casablancas, the band's chief songwriter and all around raconteur returns to the limelight with an amazing solo album which I'll be honest, I bought with much apprehension cause you know how the story goes, whenever a lead singer from a very successful band releases a solo record people are expected to buy it and like it on the back of their previous success. But this is soooooooooo not the case here. I've been listening to it pretty much non stop for the last week and Phrazes for the Young is fast becoming one of my favourite albums for this year. Opening with the visceral Out of the Blue you immediately recognize The Strokes' rebellious attitude...
Somewhere along the way, my hopefulness turned to sadness, Somewhere along the way, my sadness turned to bitterness, Somewhere along the way, my bitterness turned to anger, Somewhere along the way, my anger turned to vengeance.
Oh and this is just the beginning...Casablancas' accomplished songwriting is showcased time and time again "Your faith has got to be greater than your fear" he sings on 11th Dimension while the aggressive and chaotic River of Brakelights makes way for some wonderful and abstract play of words:
Like batteries we die, like rivers we dry We fuel and recharge, that's humans and cars My fun, my sun, be my homework done Where did you go, you were my ride home Is that what we want, is everything shot, Is that what you ask for, 'cause that's what we got?
But my personal favourite has to be the absolute magnificent Glass which features some pretty heartbreaking lyrics delivered against a backdrop of epic drums and some serious guitar riffs
Eyes will follow you
Weapons can't break through Tears will swallow you You'll always see right through
Such poetic sensibilities on some of these songs combined with the unexpected change of style - 80s synths feature heavily on some of the tracks - would have you question if this is the same cool and detached front man who's had us used to his sing-speak style on The Strokes' albums...perhaps it's just him growing up, getting married and expecting his first child, you know how people can change these days...but change is good and the genius of this entire record is that it leaves you craving more. Only eight songs, but why?! Phrazes for the Young is a solid radio friendly album that perhaps if it had been delivered under The Strokes' trade name would've stood of being accused of selling out: grunge rock goes pop?! Instead Casablancas makes it seem like the natural progression and this well crafted record is nothing to be ashamed of....Phraze be given to this young man...see what I did there?! oh dear...My work here is done.http://www.juliancasablancas.com/