Julian Casablancas

Part of Julian Casablancas' reputation as The Strokes' frontman has always been his bratty nonchalance. So it's something of a surprise, then, to discover that his solo album, Phrazes for the Young, is fairly surging with exuberance.

Phrazes' songs are brassy and confident in ways that The Strokes' more recent efforts were not; eschewing the dirty garage-rock sound that made Casablancas famous, the record's lead single, "11th Dimension" is hook-happy and synth-heavy, effusive and delightful. Amid the music's polished texture, Casablancas' trademark sleepy croon even sounds newly energized—his voice has a vivre here that we rarely heard on any Strokes record. Phrazes is no one-trick pony of flashy electronic beats, though: "Ludlow St.," an ode to nights out on the Lower East Side, features banjo solos, and indeed sounds like a sloshy tune you'd belt out with your drinking buddies at the neighborhood tavern; "River of Brakelights" then switches to tripping drum machines and weird little synth riffs. "Waving goodbye, your young heart cries for you," that latter song longingly trills. But in Casablancas' case, maturation has only brought good things.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
E. Thompson