In his extra-curricular activities, Mr. Julian Casablancas has spent the past decade drawing a line in the sand between the long-hair character he plays in the Strokes and presumably whatever he is doing outside of it. There’s was the freeze-dried synth pop cool guy on Phrazes for the Young, his first solo splunking, which was followed by, five years later, by the burning spray can farts and leather jacket routine on Tyranny, his first record with a unit he christened Julian Casablancas+The Voidz. The band featured a number of people who had been in lesser bands of Casablancas’ era: drummer Alex Carapetis toured with Nine Inch Nails in the naughts and guitarist Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter was in a band that was featured on a season of VH1’s The Rock Life. He also may or may not be a creep. A tidy rebrand now had them as simply The Voidz and they have a new record coming out later this year.
The first official single from that record is called “Leave It In My Dreams” — though they road-tested some material in South America last year if you wanna sleuth YouTube for that. The single is interesting enough, however. It sounds nothing like Tyranny and, in fact, is coated in the same flavor of slick dark new wave gloss that the Strokes have been pursuing since coming back with “Under Cover of Darkness” in 2011. Opening with a rock-n-roll fingerpluck and then chasing Julian’s vocals with even-paced synth keys and small pockets of Albert Hammond Jr.-mining guitar solos, it instantly succeeds in surpassing most of his bandmates’ recent Strokes-ish new wavey material (Nick Valensi’s New Skin, Nikolai Fraiture’s With You Tonight). This is interesting, in that it proves, somewhat, that Casablancas can basically be the Strokes at this point, if he wants to be. Though he also might not; midway through, Cassablancas teases at turning the single into a surf-rock track for a hot minute and vocally resists the peppy tightness of solid Strokes track.
You know what would be a great thing to leave in my dreams, Jules? That Rick Rubin record.