Krista DeJulio & Natalie Kfoury – Features Editor & Editor-in-Chief
Julian Casablancas is known by many as one of America’s rock gods. Known best as the lead singer of The Strokes, Casablancas has won the hearts of many with his powerful voice and signature lyrics. On his second solo effort, “Tyranny,” he paired up with the Voidz, an eclectic group of musicians, and created an album that veers far away from The Strokes’ work, leaving fans perplexed at first, but eventually happy (or at least interested) as the material is strong in its own way.
“Tyranny” is definitely an experimental album and is probably not the easiest on the ears, but it is the most musically diverse compared to the solo works of the other Strokes band members. Casablancas’ first solo album, “Phrazes for the Young,” was released in 2009 and was a spectacular case of the blissful first album that can do no wrong. “Tyranny” was filled with beautiful, sweeping tracks where Casablancas’ voice shone through and the music was clear and vivid. Casablancas’ sophomore album with “the Voidz” has musically gone in a new direction.
The album has an 80s-synth-pop vibe that is not likeable at first even by the biggest of fans. Casablancas challenges his vocal chords ranging from his signature drawl that will have old fans thinking of The Strokes to yelling in the same song. The songs, for the most part, are fast paced and bring listeners a wave of nostalgia for classic Strokes songs and the 1980s all on one album.
The album starts off with “Take Me With Your Army” and sounds like it should be in a video game. “Father Electricity” sounds like it should be the soundtrack to running through a rainforest while loggers chase after you with constant drums beats and fast paced guitars. Things get weird on “Xerox” and “Nintendo Blood” when the listener will feel as if they traveled into a time machine and went back 30 years ago and hear sounds they have never heard before.
After a few listens, “Tyranny” is interesting and more likeable than at first. It may take lis- teners more than a few times to decipher what
Casablancas is singing, as the vocals are distorted on many tracks, but maybe that is for the best. Tyranny is not an uplifting album. Many songs are tragically sad while others are angry.
It is a protest album of a person confused and deeply saddened by the world and personal problems while fighting to discover and reinvent himself. On “Off to War…” he croons, “I wait for the light to shine” over and over while on “Xerox,” he repeats “I’m the worst, I’m the worst.” Even the track listing is reminiscent of protest as the first song is “Take Me in Your Army” and the final is “Off to War…”
In an interview with The Guardian regarding “Tyranny,” Casablancas said, “I want to make edgier, interesting stuff main- stream. I’m not trying to be weird. I’m trying to make cool things – that are usually underground – popular. A lot of what I do is to try to make cool things popular in their own time. But I’m not trying to be new or different. It’s just the same as ever – creative ideas come into my mind and I try to execute them.” Well said, sir. Well said.
Krista’s standout tracks: “Business Dog,” “Johan Von Bronx,” “Crunch Punch,” “Human Sadness,” “Father Electricity”.
Natalie’s standout tracks: “Where No Ea- gles Fly,” “Human Sadness,” “Nintendo Blood,” “Business Dog,” “Off to War…”