A throwback to '70s arena-rock with '80s synth-pop dropped in for good measure, this melodic, angsty, and ultimately upbeat solo debut from Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas manages to find its modern sound. At points, one hears Trans Am's Futureworld, but Phrazes evokes even more of a carnival-midway feel than that 1999 indie-rock staple.
Casablancas's voice drones through the bitter to some occasionally sweet lyrics. Lines such as "Everything seems to go wrong when I start drinking" and "Somewhere along the way, my sadness turned to bitterness" suggest that the 31-year-old pop star's life isn't all we might imagine it to be.
The album's title comes from Oscar Wilde's "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young." Wilde says, "The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered." It seems Casablancas might be searching for that answer in this collection.
At about five minutes each, the songs are longer than the average pop track, but the time goes by quickly and, too soon, this engaging eight-track album ends.
Album title: Phrazes for the Young
Artist: Julian Casablancas
Songs: (1) Out of the Blue (2) Left & Right in the Dark (3) 11th Dimension (4) 4 Chords of the Apocalypse (5) Ludlow St. (6) River of Brakelights (7) Glass (8) Tourist