Phrazes for the Young
Nov 17, 2009 Web Exclusive
At first glance The Strokes and Kiss wouldn't seem to have much in common, but as The Strokes continue to not release Strokes albums and instead put out solo and side projects, they become less and less the sum of their parts—much like that time each KISS member released his own solo record. And, like the KISS solo efforts, each subsequent Stroke's record is less and less interesting than the one that came before, to say nothing of their output as an actual band.
More than three years since the last Strokes LP and the best that Julian Casablancas could come up with was these 8 songs? What sticks with you about Phrazes for the Young isn't that it's finally The Strokes solo project you've actually been waiting for, but just how disappointing and disposable the vast majority of it is. Granted, there are some fine melodic moments on tracks such as "Out of the Blue," and "11th Dimension" is easily the best '80s jam of 2009; but by and large the songwriting is weak and Casablancas comes off as uninspired. In lieu of a Strokes record, you get this instead.
Whereas the members of KISS had distinctive personalities (or at least recognizable make-up personas), their solo efforts were largely unimaginative KISS re-hashes that suffered from a) not being actual KISS albums and b) canonizing songs that ordinarily probably would've ended up on the cutting room floor. Likewise, the solo Strokes are less the sum of their parts; contrary to what was promulgated five years ago, the band is essentially interchangeable, with its members having little to say of musical merit when left to their own devices. The only real big surprises on all non-Stroke releases has been that Albert Hammond, Jr. is a surprisingly credible popsmith and Casablancas fetishizes synthesizers a lot more than you'd expect.
It's not all awful, and it's certainly not Gene Simmons doing "When You Wish Upon A Star," but it sure ain't the Strokes, either. (www.juliancasablancas.com)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 8/10