Interesting review..

Nov 09

Interesting review..

Posted by Max Fischer on

I think this guy does a good job of articulating some things I have been wanting to try to express in regards to certain songs on Phrazes..(ore even the whole feel of Phrazes) especially Ludlow Street and 4 chords of the Apocalypse.. he basically says they come off as almost comical or like a parody... but he thinks it's because Julian just F'ed up and doesn't have the skills..

BUT I think this guy is missing the REAL point. This is what I have been trying to get at in regards to the deeper meanings that is Phrazes true message.. I think Julian is using the "gentrification of new York" or a "love song" in 4 Chords of the Apocalypse as a metaphor for much larger issues.. it's the same reason why 11th Dimension is like a New Order and Michael Jackson song fused together about 9-11.. why would you have this dance song and then have the message "forgive them even if they are not sorry" or how he is waiting for some "next great new movement".... it truly amazes me that people don't understand this... why would you name a soul/love song 4 Chords of the Apocalypse? Why is 11th Dimension called 11th Dimension?

I think Julian is trying to send out some serious subliminal messages in this record and IMO it's working too well.. because NO ONE is really getting it...

[quote]Julian Casablancas
Ben Hewitt , November 9th, 2009 12:24
It his been eight years since The Strokes, with their carefully rumpled hair and retro chic, arrived on these shores to inject some much needed panache into a drab, dreary and jumper-clad UK music scene. Sure, their razor-sharp image couldn't completely paper over the paucity of their tunes, but with the bland mugs of Starsailor and Travis adorning the cover of the NME, the their debut Is This It seemed a hell of a lot more attractive. Since the initial hype, though, they've never been able to kick on and justify that huge first wave of excitement. A succession of solid but patchy albums followed, with neither Room On Fire nor First Impressions Of Earth matching the effortless flair of their debut, while the band dynamic has seemingly splintered amidst tales of studio bickering and endless solo projects. It was no shock, then, when singer and chief songwriter Julian Casablancas revealed he was working on his own album Phrazes for the Young. With ever member of the group bar guitarist Nick Valensi pursuing their own independent musical interests, the only surprise is that it took him so long.

The initial worry with Phrazes for the Young is that it will be a lazy Strokes re-hash — a fear that opening track 'Out Of The Blue' does little to dispel with its taut metal-wire guitar riff and teasing lyrical references to the band's fall from grace ("Somewhere along the way my hopefulness turned to sadness / Somewhere along the way my sadness turned to bitterness" and "I'm going to hell in a leather jacket", anyone?). It proves to be a misnomer, though, for much that follows. Rather than re-tread old ground, Casablancas embarks on a starts with throbbing 70s disco, takes a detour via downtown 60s soul, and culminates in tear-jerking balladry. Is This It volume II this certainly is not.

Refusing to serve up another slice of garage rock is laudable. The alternatives offered in its absence, however, are less impressive. The cherry-picking of disparate genres imbues Phrazes for the Young with a distinctly cabaret hue; an off-putting novelty vibe akin to Robbie Williams 'going swing' on Swing When You're Winning or 'electro' on Rudebox. Casablancas plunders different styles, superficially skimming them for their most obvious tropes like a magpie without ever delving into their core. '4 Chords Of The Apocalypse', for example, nails all the requisite criteria needed to replicate the classic soul sound, with its smoky organ and blues-drenched guitar, but despite the plush production, it's still inescapably hollow. Casablancas tries to muster as much underground jazz bar gravitas into his voice as possible, but he can't stop his crooning vocals of "I'll take you shopping / I'll take you dancing too" erring on the side of parody.

The same can be said for the boozy waltz of 'Ludlow Street'. A whiskey-soaked ditty which sees Casablancas bemoan how "Everything seems to go wrong when I start drinking" over a backdrop of plonking finger-picking. It's spot on as a country and western pastiche, but one suspects that merely spoofing other genres wasn't the limit to his ambitions. However much he tries to convince otherwise, he doesn't have the inebriated croak of Shane McGowan — just as the Casablancas of '4 Chords...' doesn't have the groove of John Lee Hooker. It's a problem which re-occurs with the neutered balladry of 'Glass' as he desperately strives for the epic, but despite the huge groundswell of sky-scraping guitars, it all sounds too calculated. By the time he howls "Don't wanna break all that heart", any emotion in the song has been choked to death by its own grandiose ambitions.

Elsewhere, though, there are reminders of Casablancas' aptitude for scuzzy melody, and tantalising glimpses of the direction Phrazes… should have taken. The claustrophobic electro-riff of 'Left & Right In The Dark' sounds like a distant cousin of '12:51', while '11th Dimension' is fantastically hammy disco number which takes the refrain of David Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel' and mangles it through a warped Wurlitzer. 'River Of Brakelights', meanwhile, is a dark and menacing beast, as Casablancas taps into his hedonistic side and declares, with a throat-tearing growl, "We're in for a late night". It's at these junctures, when the fuzzy garage rock of The Strokes is taken to its natural progression and given a New Wave style makeover reminiscent of Blondie, that Casablancas shows why a solid solo album is definitely within his grasp - but while the pastiches and parodies hold sway, Phrazes for the Young is more of a vanity than solo project.[/quote]

Replies for this Forum Topic

This review is for the most part terrible. First off, I think his take on Out of the Blue is totally misguided. In my opinion, most of the lyrics of the song --like those of many tracks on the album-- deal with his struggles and experiences with alcohol, not his difficulties with the band. However, I do agree with the opinions expressed regarding Ludlow St. and 4 Chords or the Apocolypse, which I see as hokie stabs at styles which don't mesh at all with Julian's talents. Other than those two tracks, I think the album is phenomenal. Took me a while to adjust to the synth-pop vibe, but now I'm totally into it. I also enjoyed the bonus track Old Hollywood.

I think people are afraid of what they don't understand.. Critics and most fans don't understand Julian because he doesn't cater to critics AND he doesn't cater to the fan.. he isn't just trying to copy everyone else to be popular.. and yet he isn't being pretentious in the way most people do.. like Radiohead etc.. this is why critics are so turned off by Julian on a whole.. they simply don't know what to make of him.. and this is precisely why he is so great IMO. No one else takes this approach.. I love it.. I feel like Julian thinks like I do... he;s a loner.. a true rebel.

I also feel like this album was a very solid effort. I feel like the good responses of people out way the bad responses. I just dont see it when people
hate on what he did here. First off some of this material im sure was written with the intensions of being on a strokes cd, but because of the whole
band having control the songs didnt go on the list for new cd songs. So my guess is julian then took them and made them how he originally envisioned
them. Which is why i enjoyed them so much. These songs feel like they could of been played by the strokes, but then they were transformed into
something completely different. So you get the feel of the strokes a bit, but then you get another sides of julian. I just dont get why people are being
so negative about this cd.


Again.. to try to illustrate my point.. I think the entire album could be described as "sardonic"... even in how the songs are created and performed... and if you read interviews Julian does.. in one of them he says Phrases and Philosophies for the Young is like Oscar Wilde doing stand up comedy of the time.. and I think this is what Jules is doing with Phrazes.. it's like a mocking parody almost.. I think it's brilliant in what he is doing and how he is doing it.. it's a complexity that you don't see in music.. a depth.. I think you could say the same thing about what he did for the Strokes too.. it's just an entirely new kind of subversiveness that I have never seen before in music. He's making moves musically I have never seen before. It's like on the level of what Warhol did in the art World.. only no one seems to be noticing what Julian is doing for some reason.. maybe because he is doing it so subtly... I think people may not understand it for a long long time..

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