Thirteen years have passed since the release of The Strokes amazing debut-album “Is This It”, and it’s pretty hard to imagine that the man behind it is the same that made this “Tyranny”.
Obviously, a great deal has happened since – The Strokes split-up then got back together, and most of the members had side-projects. Plus, we knew Casablancas’ influences are way beyond fellow New-Yorkers Television and The Velvet Underground: in 2009, his LP “Phrazes For The Young” showed great vibes of 80s’ dance-pop, and he appears on “Instant Crush” from Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”.
Still, “Tyranny” remains what one could call an “UMO” (Unidentified Musical Object.) Pretty much everything feels strange with this album, starting with that 11-minutes track “Human Sadness” as first single, which could be summarized as a long and painful complaint. To say it is not designed for radio would be an understatement.
Actually, except for the second single “Where No Eagles Fly” – of a way more classical and easy shape -, nothing in that album seems to be done to facilitate its listening. This is clearly an hour of experimental material. Julian Casablancas recently stated that, while he had to restrain himself on his previous solo effort, he had here the opportunity to reach what he always aimed. Strangely though, his work sounds unfinished.
There definitely are good ideas in every of these 12 songs but they always end up lost in the maze of their structure, as if there were 3 different tracks in one. Add sounds of 8-bits video games, radio-like extracts and bleeding guitars, and the result might too often be a barely audible noise. Of course, not everything is to be thrown away, and if you accept their strangeness, “Dare I Care”, “M.utually A.ssured D.estruction” or “Business Dog” are pretty decent tunes. Plus, the album comes in the form of an USB lighter, which is kind of cool.
Maybe Casablancas just tried too hard to make an ultra-elaborate record when it’s sometimes best to stick to simplicity. Have a listen though; you might actually apprehend “Tyranny” in a completely different way.
By Julien Reverchon
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