Julian Casablancas announced a new album today (March 6) with a teaser trailer that, in two minutes of scrappy VHS visuals and fast and furious song snippets, packed more questions than answers. This much we know: it’s to be released on the Strokes man’s own Cult Records imprint, it’s “coming soon” and will feature a pretty broad spread of sounds, if the trailer – which begins with a dark Cramps-style garage dirge before segueing into a furious hardcore punk melee and weirdo arcade noises – is anything to go by. Otherwise, details surrounding Casablancas’ incoming second solo album are thin on the ground. We should learn more in the coming fortnight if rumours emerging this afternoon of a potential appearance at SXSW in Austin are true. Until then, here’s what we want to know.
What’s it going to sound like?
“Please come over here, you look all confused,” Julian sings on the first track snippet. Confused is about right. There’s so much crammed into this trailer – scuzzy garage bass lines, images of riots and overturned cars. There's ambient keyboard echoes, shots of shadowy figures in punk denims, distorted news report chatter, choir-like vocals and so on – it’s near impossible to guess just where Julian Casablancas and the Voidz are about to take us with this record. One thing seems certain – it’s going to be an eclectic mix with a nostalgic late ‘80s feel.
Who the hell are the Voidz?
Are the Voidz a new backing band or just a name? The video shows Casablancas but doesn’t linger on his band mates, posing the question – just who is involved in this project? Is there any involvement from any of his Strokes bandmates? Casablancas released guitarist Albert Hammond Jr’s last EP on his Cult Records imprint – might he be involved here? Has he enlisted his recent signings Cerebral Ballzy for any of the punky edge heard here? There could also be contributions from Daft Punk, should the Robo-Franco duo decide to return the favour after Casablancas guested on their ‘Random Access Memories’? Casablancas’ last backing band, The Sick Six, featured a then-unknown Danielle Haim, who could return again here. One of the Sick Six, Alex Carapetis (or at least someone who looks like him) is present in the video, suggesting he'll be back on drum duties.
Where does it leave the Strokes’ plans?
The first clue that Casablancas was prepping a new solo release came when he was confirmed for various festivals, including Lollapalooza in South America later this month. More of a shock at the time was the Strokes announcing a live return – the New Yorkers didn’t play live in support of last album ‘Comedown Machine’ but appeared on the poster for the city’s Govenor’s Ball weekender in June. At the time it was suggested more dates could follow but if Casablancas is busy with solo plans, a Strokes tour seems unlikely. But who knows? Either way, forget the 'game over' message at the end of the video - after five years playing label boss and making only rare interviews appearances, we're going to be seeing a lot more of the singer in the coming months. The game's only just started.