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20 Watts Reviews Julian Casablancas’ Phrazes for the Young by JohnCassillo

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The Strokes' Julian Casablancas' solo debut is an energetic success

PREVIEW: VISIT Julian Casablancas’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

After all of the hinting at pop dreams, the collaborations and that ridiculous track on The Lonely Island‘s album (see “Boombox”), listeners finally get to see a finished product from The StrokesJulian Casablancas.

Phrazes for the Young, the Strokes’ fronman’s first solo album, comes off as a whirlwind of pent up energy. It’s as if these tracks have been locked up for years, waiting for the right moment to burst out. For as much as Casablancas’ main project has succeeded in pop, they’ve never done it like this.

But that’s not to say that Phrazes for the Young is devoid of any rock influence. Amidst all of the enthusiastic displays of electronic pop prowess, impressive riffs and catchy keyboard parts hook you in just as much. It’s not that Casablancas’ solo project was supposed to make you forget his rock roots entirely. Rather, it actually helps to consider them in this regard. Without acknowledging his previous accomplishments, it could be difficult to truly grasp what’s going on while swimming in the power pop world he’s created.

And what a world it is. From opener “Out of the Blue” through “Left & Right In the Dark” and into first single, “11th Dimension,” you are immersed in a stunning scenery of electronic sound. Each track is a distinctive and confident statement that refuses to be overshadowed by its counterparts. Casablancas is truly comfortable in the pop realm, perhaps more than he’s been during the past few years as a member of The Strokes.

After the opener though, there can be a bit of a letdown. For as excellent as each of tracks four through eight are respectively, all come off as a slightly reserved. In no way is it enough to diminish the overall accomplishment here though. Rather, it may actually be a statement about how superb the beginning of the album is. But nonetheless, the more spacious and (mostly) rock-focused second half will, for some, be a segment less celebrated than the first.

Still, for his initial steps into the pop spotlight, Casblancas passes with flying colors. His catchy sense of melody has translated flawlessly from the rock genre to pop, and with that, the expectations for all future work will be set accordingly high. Based on his efforts here, I think he’ll be just fine.

— John Cassillo

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[…] Julian Casablancas [16/20 watts — read the review] title: 11th Dimension album: Phrazes for the […]

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