Julian Casablancas’ second album with the Voidz starts more promisingly than the bulk of Tyranny, their misfiring 2014 debut. Leave It in My Dreams is actually recognisable as coming from the man who wrote the deceptively lackadaisical-sounding songs the Strokes used to do so well. However, things swiftly unravel on recent single QYURRYUS, a horrendous mess of throbbing, glitchy electronica, heavily Autotuned vocals and no doubt meaningful spoken phrases buried deep in the mix. Remarkably, it’s not even the worst song here: whereas Atari Teenage Riot once made metal guitars bolted on to a demented beat seem genuinely exciting, Black Hole replaces their passion and energy with a bafflingly muffled production to create perhaps the worst song of 2018 to date.
Casablancas had promised an “eclectic record”, and he has certainly delivered on that score. But there can be a fine line between “eclectic” and “utterly incoherent”, and this falls a long way inside the wrong court. As with the debut, Virtue is a wildly self-indulgent affair, genres jarringly cobbled together with little thought as to the consequences (is he trying to sound like Robbie Williams on All Wordz Are Made Up?). It isn’t all terrible – Pink Ocean locks into an appealing groove; Think Before You Drink is tuneful enough, if an abomination lyrically. But even the biggest Strokes devotee will find precious little worth hearing here.