Album: Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young (Rough Trade)

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The Independent Culture

On 2006's First Impressions Of Earth, Julian Casablancas seemed in terminal retreat from his muse, apparently bent on bringing The Strokes' waning momentum to a halt.

"We could drag it out, but that's for other bands to do," he observed at one point. So, we saw a succession of tepid solo ventures from individual band members. As the band's principal songwriter, one expected more from Casablancas's solo debut, but Phrazes For The Young is an ill-defined, uninspired affair, sorely lacking in potency and direction, suffering from an Eighties hangover. The opening "Out Of The Blue" sketchily charts his emotional progress from inspiration and engagement to disillusion and boredom before the New Order-esque electropop textures of "Left & Right In The Dark" and "11th Dimension" illustrate the singer's need to "go somewhere new fast". But where he ends up is the bluesy rumination of "4 Chords Of The Apocalypse" and the ungainly waltz "Ludlow Street". They're infinitely preferable, however, to the concluding trio of "River Of Brake Lights", "Glass" and "Tourist", amorphous, arty exercises with a depressing line in nasty prog-rock keyboard parts.

Download this 4 Chords Of The Apocalypse; 11th Dimension; Ludlow Street