Phrazes For The Young

  • Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Nov 3, 2009

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. At the end, after his inevitable untimely death, all anyone will care about will be the stately grandeur of the opening (and closing) music coupled with the star’s eternal blank stare: unknowable, unfathomable, and ultimately tragic. We’ll have to wait for the movie; fortunately the soundtrack is already here.
  2. Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas steps out with his debut solo album, Phrazes for the Young, and dynamically weaves '80s techno-pop with psychedelic punk, while also reinventing his usual monochromatic croon.
  3. Recorded under the radar with producer Jason Lader and Bright Eyes collaborator Mike Mogis, it’s a strange little album, just eight songs long but deceptively dense with ideas.
  4. 80
    The effect is more Tokyo neon than Lower East Side leather. Surprisingly, the sonic leap forward intensifies Casablancas' greatest gift--melody.
  5. 80
    Ultimately, Phrazes For The Young testifies that the qualities that made Julian Casablancas so noteworthy in 2001 remain in place, just a little more difficult to predict.
  6. With a new Strokes album looking less likely by the day, I’m thankful for this--turns out Casablancas solo is just as good.
  7. Phrazes for the Young blusters its way through eight songs full of killer hooks and choruses, and then? Well, it’s gone, as fun and fleeting as a carnival ride that’s just a memory a few hours later.
  8. Overall, Phrazes For The Young is a successful departure from The Strokes' straightforward brawn, but it's not as different as it's been billed.
  9. It may not have the sugar rush immediacy of the Strokes, and at times it's downright indulgent, but Phrazes for the Young shows that Casablancas has more than enough ideas for several albums on his own and with his band--and perhaps most importantly, he sounds more enthused about making music on it than he has since "Is This It."
  10. Mojo
    Julian Casablancas emerges with this engagingly odd collection of songs. [Nov 2009, p.92]
  11. The album adheres to a less-is-best philosophy, and the songs sound effortless. It’s simple, straightforward and immediate, just like the first Strokes album.
  12. It is overarchingly ambitious for a solo debut, and despite Casablancas’ pre-release claims that this was going to be some classico-synth detour straight out the asshole of Tattooine, the album rarely, rarely stumbles into po-mo theatrics.
  13. Burdened with the responsibility of assuring the future of rock at the beginning of this decade, Casablancas now looks like he could have a decent future of his own.
  14. Phrazes represents a creative departure for Casablancas and another milestone for his band--marking a point where they've produced more quality albums by themselves than as a group.
  15. Strokes frontman ditches leather jacket, reinvents self as DIY Gary Numan.
  16. In the end, deliberately(?) tinny tracks such as 'Glass' sound like sketches in search of a full band. Hopefully, said band will soon oblige.
  17. Whenever Casablancas strains for seriousness, the album loses focus....When he concentrates on making pop music, however, Phrazes for the Young is a blast.
  18. A few songs have the old leather-jacket kick, but things get weirder as he explores alienation from a Lower East Side he once ruled.
  19. Q Magazine
    'Ludow St' is lyrically smart, musically ambitious, more than any other track on Phrazes, it makes you wonder, if not regret, why the Strokes themselves never pushed the boat out this far. For that reason alone, it was worth Casablancas making this intriguing if imperfect record. [Nov 2009, p.98]
  20. The irony is that Phrazes for the Young is so smoothed over--nearly all of Casablancas' trademark vocal roughness is airbrushed into oblivion--it instantly sounds like a plexiglass-covered museum piece.
  21. With the Strokes, Casablancas exploits the tension between his behind-the-beat, just-woke-up vocals and the band’s hurtling rhythms. On Phrazes, the slower-moving tempos match the unhurried pace of his distinctive croon, and the melodies and arrangements aren’t strong enough to make up for the loss in urgency.
  22. If it were anyone else, this record would be fine. Solid. Entertaining. But it's not anyone else--Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes. As such, you look for more and expect to tune in to find Julian doing the same.
  23. 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.
  24. There are moments which hint at Casablancas’ underlying skill as a writer on Phrazes, but there’s such a ruinous deployment of disparate ideas that they never form a cogent whole.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 79 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Oct 30, 2014
    I honestly would give this album an 11 if I could. Julian Casablancas is not only a great musician, but also a great lyricist. While he,I honestly would give this album an 11 if I could. Julian Casablancas is not only a great musician, but also a great lyricist. While he, himself is not too fond of this album for its so called "mainstream sound." I think it is great. Every song is pure poetry, and some songs like "Glass" or "11th Dimension" could be multiple poems if separated correctly. This album is clearly underrated and continues with the trend of mine "I have never bought an album Julian Casablancas was involved in that I didn't like." I listen to this music almost daily, and if not, it's at least on my mind all the time. I will always keep a CD copy of this in my car, and in my home. I burn CD's of this album to share with my friends so they can enjoy it. And it only gets better. If you look on youtube there are acoustic versions of "11th Dimension", "River of Breaklights", and "4 Chords of the Apocalypse" that are PHENOMENAL! Although Julian seems to flub-up the words a few times, the sound of just guitar and his raw vocals almost knocked me out of my office chair. SERIOUSLY... GET THIS ALBUM!!! Full Review »
  2. Dec 6, 2013
    I think this album is too underrated by the critics, all the songs in "Phrazes For The Young" capture that somewhat 80 's 90 's feels veryI think this album is too underrated by the critics, all the songs in "Phrazes For The Young" capture that somewhat 80 's 90 's feels very well and were able to present them in very sophisticated and beautiful electronic sounds! I would give it 9 out of 10, but to compensate the rating i give it 10!!! :D Full Review »
  3. Sep 19, 2013
    [5.5] Although Julian has come a long way from the basic (yet powerful), traditional rock music that made The Strokes, he clearly hasn't ended[5.5] Although Julian has come a long way from the basic (yet powerful), traditional rock music that made The Strokes, he clearly hasn't ended up where he wants to be, and the worst part is he doesn't seem to care. This is become increasingly evident in The Strokes' new music, where it seems like they just want to change their style completely unnecessarily. They don't care how it sounds, they just care that they're putting out music. After listening to this album, it's quite clear that Julian is the main problem with the band's lack of cohesion and consistency. When I listen to this and Comedown Machine (which I enjoyed despite its poor songwriting), all I hear is an artist that can't wait to stop writing music. Much to his own fault, his music lacks the enthusiasm and the sincerity to entertain me like the first two Strokes albums did. I won't say that I didn't like The Strokes after Room On Fire, I just think that it's agreeable to think they don't want to work hard on their music anymore. Full Review »