Julian Casablancas + The Voidz: Tyranny

Julian Casablancas trades minimal rock cool for maximum intensity and ... it's a lot to take in.

- Julian Casablancas’ first album under his own name, Phrazes for the Young, was the sound of someone broken (excluding single 11th Dimension, which can still fill the floor at Ric's Bar). Casablancas moaned and wallowed and confessed and apologised all the way through, and though this led to some really great moments, the thing as a whole was a bit of a drag. If all you’ve heard of Tyranny so far is first single, Human Sadness, you might be expecting more of the same; but with this album Casablancas has become the human equivalent of that TimeZone crocodile whacking game. He’s back, and now he’s angry.

I just wish that anger was more directed, because now these songs drag for a different reason. There’s heaps of energy here, heaps of ideas, but it’s such an onslaught that listening to the album as a whole is a trial. My opinion towards Tyranny changed dramatically from the start to the finish. Actually I wouldn’t have been surprised if seasons and hair styles had also changed dramatically while I was listening to this record, it’s that goddamn long. Twelve songs, averaging about five or six minutes each, and towards the end you start to feel every second of it. Phrazes for the Young had plenty of long, overwrought tracks as well, but at eight songs long it practically skipped by, in comparison.

Maybe that’s what the band is going for; maybe they see this record as a reaction to shortened attention spans, maybe they don’t want people like me listening to it: they’re looking for an audience that can appreciate rock-opera posturing, droning guitar, trite interludes of what sounds like 60s radio ads, Casablancas’s anxious hectoring vocals, and all the rest of it. It could be that’s what this record is supposed to be – an all-encompassing, dramatic, draining experience; lines like ‘this is not for everybody, this is for nobody’ on first track Take Me In Your Army would seem to confirm this, and if so: mission accomplished.

Still, it’s kind of ironic that a guy who was credited with stripping back and reinvigorating rock music in the early 2000s, someone so associated with the zenith of cool, has made an album so weighed down, earnest, and, whichever way you slice it, unavoidably lame. Julian Casablancas has thrown away everything he’s supposed to be, and what’s left is something probably not many people will like, although some few will probably, really love it. Maybe now that’s all he wants.

- Madeleine Laing.

Album Details

Album Title: Tyranny
Artist: Julian Casablancas
Record Label: (Cult / Kobalt / Inertia)