- 02 May 18
Are you into 'futuristic prison jazz'?
With The Strokes on indefinite hiatus, frontman Julian Casablancas has had some time on his hands to work on another project – his second band The Voidz. Their new album, Virtue, follows 2014 debut Tyranny, which received decidedly mixed reviews.
Last year, Casablancas described the sound of Virtue as “futuristic prison jazz” – a pretty meaningless term. The album is less “futuristic” than familiar, with notes of ’80s pop and new wave breaking through. Similarly, it’d take a very discerning ear to hear the jazz influence, though there are elements of experimental rock, bluegrass and jangle-pop.
Virtue is purportedly a political album, although the lyrics are almost indecipherable due to the electronic distortion covering Casablanca’s signature drawl. A true highlight, though, is ‘Lazy Boy’, which introduces itself with a Strokes-style guitar riff, and also boasts a terrific melody.
One step removed from the commercial success of The Strokes, The Voidz offer a safe space for Casablanas to experiment: perhaps as a result, the record is betimes both confusing and discordant, as well as stunning and compelling. On ‘Permanent High School’, Casablancas – perhaps as a pre-emptive strike against critics, or perhaps because he just doesn’t care – sings, “Just cause something’s popular, don’t mean it’s good.” All of which means Strokes-like sales are probably not in the offing. Virtue is deliberately not for the masses.
Record label: RCA
Listen to: ’Lazy Boy’
Overall rating: 6/10