Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Listen: Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young

The Strokes are yet another band I don't understand. They are all right, for what they are - a mediocre guitar-rock band that momentarily captured the public's attention. The Strokes were at the forefront of the garage-rock revival of the early 'aughts, and their second and third albums failed to ignite the same spark. I'm not sure why people still look to them as an important band.

So here's Julian Casablancas, the Strokes' lead singer, stepping out on his own, and he's followed the cliche to the hilt. Phrazes for the Young goes all synthesizer on our asses, glamming up Casablancas' simple songs with keyboard lines and drum patterns. I wish this wasn't such a predictable move at this point, because I like synthesizers and drum machines, when used well. But it really comes down to the songs, in the end.

Some of these eight songs are okay - "Glass" is catchy, "11th Dimension" is pretty good. Some of them are terrible - "Ludlow St." made me want to tear my ears off, "4 Chords of the Apocalypse" sadly fails to live up to its title. None of them are memorable. Like the Strokes themselves, Phrazes for the Young will shortly fade from memory, leaving no trace. If you don't want to bother with it, I wouldn't blame you.

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