Wow. Easily, one of my favorite tracks of the year. We all knew Julian Casablancas would sooner or later reach that point where producing more of the same kind of music simply wouldn’t cut it anymore. Every great musical artist in history with care and respect for the medium has said “fuck it” and tried something drastically new. Thom Yorke did it post-Radiohead, the Beatles did it with psychedelia in the mid-1960s and now it’s Julian’s turn to shamelessly disregard all the rules. “Human Sadness,” the first single to prelude “Tyranny,” Julian Casablancas’s aptly named, collaborative effort with the Voidz, as well as his follow-up solo album to “Phrazes for the Young” from 2009, is distinctly formless, explosive, and lovely. He always had a knack for addictive melodies and sloppily executed vocals, but he’d never been this unorganized before. There’s never been a song from Casablancas that has made such little sense quite as much as this 11-minute long dysphoric ballad has. He’s taken a leap into the unknown realm of experimental pop/rock music with this single and perhaps with “Tyranny” as a whole. He explained his approach to the album in a car interview with his record label, Cult Records NYC.
“I feel like there is still an in between area in music that hasn’t been explored. I guess [Tyranny] is just trying to become that gap.”
There are many blurry crossovers of genres within “Human Sadness.” It’s like a dysfunctional marriage between the digital and the tangible. That’s the theme this single and “Tyranny’s” overall marketing campaign seems to be emulating. For example, the album is going to be available through a “lighter sleeve” that can be ordered from Julian’s website. To my knowledge, it’s a functional lighter with a USB port of the album connected to it. Videos of his band are time-stamped and fuzzy like old VHS tapes. The band’s lead guitarist, Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter, looks like a rocker from the 70’s with his bold upper lip mustache and greasy mullet. It’s no secret Julian is somewhat of a retrophiliac. If his leather jackets and 240p quality clips from “Hard to Explain“ weren’t indicative enough for you than you probably don’t listen to him enough. “Tyranny” is everything Julian’s nostalgic for only this time he’s holding nothing back. I don’t anticipate Julian Casablancas and the Voidz will be ushering in an era of 70’s music and fashion with this album, I don’t think the world is quite ready for that yet. What’s more likely to happen and what I sincerely hope does happen, is for “Tyranny” to encourage other artists to take more expressive and unpredictable leaps into the uncharted “in betweens” of music in the future.