Unfortunately for Julian Casablancas, anything he creates – be it a solo album, side project, commercial jingle or cookbook – will be compared to Is This It. The Strokes’ debut earned them a cumbersome amount of hype that still invites acclaim to this day, with good reason.
Tyranny just doesn’t offer anything for hardcore Strokes fans to latch onto. It has has none of the accessibility or broad appeal of Is This It or Room on Fire. It’s indulgent and experimental, but the subject matter is significantly less sexy. Casablancas has created something more dull than a politically charged album – a 62-minute middle finger to corporate America. That’s not to say, though, that the record isn’t without its charm or that it won’t appeal to fans, new and old.
The album’s lead single, clocking in at a ballsy ten minutes and 56 seconds, is called Human Sadness. Sprawling, ambitious, vaguely dystopian and futuristic, it perfectly encapsulates the record as a whole. Just like the rest of the album it’s brilliant in some parts but begs for restraint. The song has track of the year potential but loses its nerve somewhere along the way. That’s the story of Tyranny in a nutshell. It’s mind-boggling how the record shifts back and forth between hypnotising and machine-like tracks like Xerox (eerily reminiscent of a busy forklift) to cartoonish guitar riffs that sound like they belong on the b-side of the F-zero X soundtrack.
Along with lacking some self-control, where the album really loses its listener is lyrically. If Tyranny were a man, he’d take your head off talking about Koch Industries if you gave him half a chance. Is there anything less cool than hating department stores? Tyranny is it.
Tyranny was released on 23rd September 2014, for further information or to order the album visit here.