Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The Young (4 stars)

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Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The Young

(Rough Trade)

The List is quite frankly gagging for a new Strokes record … it’s been three years ferchrissakes. But until we get one, Julian Casablancas’ debut (easily the Strokes-iest sounding of each member’s solo projects so far) will do nicely. At a mere eight tracks long, it’s damn short, but oh how sweetly it soars.

Opening strongly with the gritty riff-propelled ‘Out Of The Blue’, the frontman wittily croons ‘I know I’m going to hell/ in a leather jacket/ at least I’ll be in another world/ while you’re pissing on my casket’ as a melange of swoon-some synths and duelling guitars crowd around an utterly infectious melody – leading nicely into two of the album’s further highlights; brilliantly pop-tastic effort ‘Left & Right In The Dark’ and stomping single ‘11th Dimension’.

‘4 Chords of the Apocalypse’ and ‘Ludlow Street’ take things down a notch; the former’s bluesy piano paving the way for an acoustic sway-along complete with, umm, playfully discordant banjo solo. Casablancas goes folk eh? Who’d have thought it? But the standout is still to come, and it slams out of the speakers in the form of the gloriously deranged ‘River of Brakelights’; as attacking keyboards and monstrous riffs drive an off-kilter and compelling headfuck of a backing track, while the frontman gives the most wildly emotional vocal performance of his life. Goosebumps! It’s up to ‘Glass’ and ‘Tourist’ to close proceedings, in a rather more subdued, and really quite beautiful electronics and brass-tinged fashion, and although we could certainly have done with a few extra songs tacked on at the end here, the Strokes singer leaves us thoroughly giddy and, as ever, craving more.

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