Boomkat Product Review:
The Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas is the latest member of the band to step out into the solo sphere, following on from Albert Hammond Jr's lone recordings, Fab Moretti's excellent Little Joy project and Nikolai Fraiture's Nickel Eye. It's wholly tempting to declare Casablancas' effort the most resoundingly successful of the bunch - it's certainly the most immediately Strokes-like. But for the profusion of synthesizers and other electronic contraptions the songwriting style remains fairly faithful to what we're used to from Casablancas in his day job, except here he's a little more willing to explore his own eccentricities. You'd be unlikely to hear the electro-waltzing, Dylan-esque ramble 'Ludlow Street' on a Strokes album, yet it's one of the highlights here, charting Casablancas' lamentation of a disappearing New York. More direct and poppy fare is accounted for too, with ebullient neon synth lines, charming lyrics and bulletproof hooks lacing '11th Dimension' and the similarly splendid 'Out Of The Blue', but at no point does this record sound like another exercise in '80s synth-pop revisitations. Phrazes For The Young is an uncommonly intelligent, and above all, musical album, and even on the lower-key songs there's always something exceptional to draw the ear: during the penultimate track, 'Glass', Casablancas interupts the wistful flow of the song with an artful and surprisingly technical guitar interlude that could have been transcribed from a JS Bach partita. There are only eight songs on Phrazes For The Young, but they're all reassuringly long (in pop terms at least) and crammed with levels of wit and charisma that are all too absent from the overwhelming majority of solo songwriter albums. Whether you're a confirmed Strokes fan or not, this could hardly be a more satisfying and addictive collection.