Julian Casablancas: Phrazes For The Young Review

By Gabriela Solis
Music Journalist

Over a decade ago, in 2009, Julian Casablancas released his debut solo album Phrazes For The Young. Best known as The Strokes’ frontman, Casablancas took some time after the band’s short hiatus in 2005 to compose his very first alternative rock album without most of his usual bandmates.

Phrazes For The Young, a reference to an Oscar Wilde book, is a mere eight songs long and is apparently a project that Casablancas regrets, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

The album starts fast and fun with its opener, “Out of the Blue.” Despite its upbeat sound, the lyrics are not so positive, which is undoubtedly nothing new for Julian Casablancas.

A couple songs after is “11th Dimension,” which is similar to “Out of the Blue” in its cheerful and upbeat sound, but quite opposing in terms of lyricism. It almost seems as though Casablancas created it as a rebuttal to “Out of the Blue.” He sheds light on the album title and sings of youthfulness, forgiveness, and selflessness– all of which he doesn’t typically sing much about.

Considering he’s best known to be an angsty, garage-rock singer, this song is quite out of his comfort zone. Of all of the songs on Phrazes For The Young, “11th Dimension” is the perfect tune to request at a post-coronavirus party and shamelessly dance your heart out to.

Right after “11th Dimension” is my favorite, “4 Chords of the Apocalypse.” It features an organ, which is also something Casablancas is not well known for. It’s a beautiful and emotional ballad about accepting a fleeting relationship that leaves you yearning and wishing the five minute song was even longer.

Following that is yet another unexpected song coming from Casablacnas, “Ludlow St.” The title pays tribute to a popular hangout for ‘60s psychedelic rock band The Velvet Underground, whom Casablancas greatly admires.

Despite this, the song itself is actually quite folk-inspired, and even features a pleasant banjo solo. Songs like “Ludlow St.” is definitely something I’d love to hear more from Casablancas in the future.

The sixth track, “River of Brakelights,” is an oddball that gives us a glimpse of the electronic rock music he would later create in 2018 with The Voidz. The last song, “Tourist,” is perhaps the album’s most unique song. It ends the album in what Casablancas’ music is best known for: a memorable guitar riff, and even an interesting horn accompaniment.

If you enjoy The Strokes, The Voidz or any rock music in general, listening to this album is a must.

As a huge Strokes fan, it’s something I regret not having knowledge of until this year, feeling as though I’ve been missing out for 11 years.

Casablancas really expands his musical realms, and regardless of his personal feelings towards it, Phrazes For The Young successfully showcases what he’s capable of and just how talented he is.

Featured image by Mark Williams, Sarah Hirakawa and Warren Fu.

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