Best of ’09: Julian Casablancas – Phrazes of the Young

As the end of the year all-too-rapidly approaches, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the best music of 2009 – here we revisit Julian Casablancas’ first solo album Phrazes of the Young.

Julian Casablancas (lead singer and main songwriter for The Strokes) released his first solo album during an extended period of inactivity from his main band, but the style of The Strokes (especially that of their mot recent release First Impressions Of Earth) has stuck it out for the long haul and coats every instrument and vocal intonation like treacle. Phrazes of the Young wasn’t a blockbuster album – I don’t think it received all that much publicity here in Australia, at the very least. This is probably a product of The Strokes own flagging popularity; their debut Is This It? was one of the best albums of all time, and second release Room On Fire wasn’t able to live up to the overblown and unreasonable hype. First Impressions Of Earth was greeted with an even worse reception, expectations already significantly lowered though they were.

It’s been three long years since FIOE was released. People were not anticipating a solo Casablancas record with anything approaching the fervour surrounding Room On Fire, or even the wariness of First Impressions Of Earth. They weren’t really anticipating it at all. Maybe burden of expectations being lifted from Casablancas’ shoulders freed him up, because Phrazes is a top shelf album brimming with anthemic choruses, catchy verses and slick production. It’s a pop album in the best sense of the word, catchy and fun and well-written and perfectly structured. Every song is worth a listen, every line written with care and skill. Single 11th Dimension is the most accessible, introducing the listener to the newer, more refined style that Casablancas has developed. Songs like Out Of The Blue (my favourite), 4 Chords of the Apocalypse and Tourist are incredible and mark a return to form that can only give hope to fans of The Strokes.

Julian Casablancas – 4 Chords of the Apocalypse


– Ben Vernel

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