The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas has returned to the sound of his 2009 album, “Phrazes for the Young,” this time with backup band The Voidz.
“Tyranny” is the name of the new album and like Casablancas’ “Phrazes for the Young,” this is a drastic departure from garage rock of the Strokes.
The album opens with “Take Me in Your Army,” a slow, melancholy opening and something rarely heard from the Strokes or even Casablancas himself. The track serves as a sign of what the listener can expect from the rest of the album: the unexpected.
Where the opener of the album is slow and has Casablancas practically mumbling into the mic, the next track, “Crunch Punch,” is more upbeat and has more drive than the previous track. It also features more traditional instruments than “Take Me in Your Army,” which could almost pass as a Smashing Pumpkins song.
The first single from the album, “Human Sadness,” clocks in at almost 11 minutes and has a mellow bass line and more of Casablancas’ mumbling. The song eventually does pick up the pace around the halfway point but suffers once Casablancas starts screaming indiscernible words over heavily distorted synths and crash cymbals. For an 11-minute song, however, it does a decent job of using its time wisely.
The following track, “”Where No Eagles Fly,” is the closest Casablancas and The Voidz come to sounding like The Strokes. The groovy bass line sounds a lot like the line from the Strokes’ 2005 song, “Juicebox.” Casablancas’ vocals sound similar as he reverts back to the crooning style he uses with The Strokes. It’s a solid throwback to what made Casablancas the musician he is today and will most likely be a favorite among fans of The Strokes’ early work.
Later in the album, the track, “Nintendo Blood,” blends everything from earlier in the album. On this track we hear Casablancas’ crooning style as well as him shouting into the microphone. The track has synths and keyboards paired with a drum machine, making it sound like a traditional synth-pop track. Later on, however, it starts to sound more like Daft Punk with Casablancas’ voice sounding more like the French robotic band.
Overall, “Tyranny” shows what Casablancas wants to do with his solo career and other side projects. While it’s nice that he has more creative input here, the album is difficult to put into one category. Some songs sound more synth-punk. Others could come straight from a 1980s movie soundtrack, while another flirts with the metal genre.
If you enjoyed “Phrazes for the Young” and were hoping for an album with more of that sound, you should enjoy most of what you get here. If you were hoping for more of a “Strokes Two” from Casablancas and The Voidz, you may be disappointed. The best solution is to listen to this various blend of tracks and decide for yourself.