julian-casablancasAlex Koenig gave Julian Casablancas his first vocal filter.

The easiest thing to believe about the Strokes’ style is that it’s effortless, as if the New York quintet wakes up from a night of booze-fueled debauchery and improvises their outfits. But the easiest thing to believe would be false: the boys’ off-the-cuff posturizing is as calculated as their music, right down to the press photographs of blue skies matching denim jackets. If the aesthetics never overshadow the music, it’s because they’re intertwined.

The solo work of Julian Casablancas feels more like an extension of his band’s sound than a side project. The preview to 2009’s Phrazes for the Young follow-up LP finds him with a mysterious backing band called the Voidz. Included are song snippets one would assume to be on the record. Overall, the tunes feel a bit too same-y to the retrospective panache we’re used to from the man.

The video’s impact is that of interacting with a lobotomized supermodel – it looks great, but there may not be any new ideas left. There are grainy b-movie textures, bass and axe licks lifted from Public Image Ltd., and the clip culminates with 80s arcade-game blips. I’m increasing under the impression that Julian Casablancas wants to make cool sounds more than good songs, but we’ll see if he can replace his ellipsis of influences with an exclamation point.

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