Julian Casablancas

Part of Julian Casablancas’ reputation as the Strokes’ frontman has always been his bratty nonchalance – 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 first single, “11th Dimension” is hook-happy and synth-heavy, effusive and delightful. Amidst the polished texture of the music, Casablancas’ trademark sleepy croon even sounds newly energized – his voice has a vivre 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 over to tripping drum machines and weird little synth-riffs – the song longingly trills, “Waving goodbye, your young heart cries for you” – but in Casablancas’ case, the maturation has only brought good things. With the Strange Boys and Rainbow Arabia. All ages. E. THOMPSON

Sun., Nov. 22, 7 p.m., 2009

 
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