If you’re expecting this to sound like The Strokes, you’re in for a surprise. Frontman Julian Casablancas’ solo debut, Phrazes for the Young, has none of the lo-fi, riff-driven classic rock characteristics that his band is well known for. What Julian does retain is that recipe he has for making simple, catchy pop music. Phrazes for the Young makes use of heavier bass, keyboards and synthesizers, combined with hints of Strokes-like guitar licks and basic drum beats, while also experimenting with slower, more mellow music using more instruments and sound-techniques. If First Impressions of Earth was an expansion of The Strokes’ sound, then Julian’s done the right thing by making his solo album something different altogether.
The 40-minute, 8-track album kicks off with the 2 most Stroke-esque songs on the album, , ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Left & Right in the Dark’, a couple of happy-sounding songs with catchy backbeats, faint guitar-licks and lyrics about women troubles. They’re enjoyable songs for what they are, enjoyable enough not to skip past anyway. The album starts to hit its stride with the lead single ‘11th dimension’, a song about accepting your identity with a central theme of isolation. Julian tries to get a bit deeper with the lyrics on this song, but it coincides nicely with the song’s uplifting nature. Phrazes also does well to add some more expansive and slower elements to the album towards the end, with tracks like ‘Glass’ and ‘Tourist’ incorporating multi-instrumentation into some rather beautiful segments of music.
Phrazes for the Young is a very well balanced album, with an even split of catchy pop songs and mellow undertones. Julian has done well to vary up the sound and tone of the album while preventing it from dragging on too long. The album is nothing amazing or unique, but it’s a solid first effort for a solo record and he’s made a fair effort to establish his range as a songwriter.