Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters Review

Albert Hammond Jr. is a name that has already been written into music history through his work with The Strokes which in turn led to the indie explosion of the early 2000s. Now, fourteen years after that influential first album with the Strokes and seven years after his last solo LP (¿Cómo Te Llama, 2008) the music terrain has changed. That’s not to say he’s been doing nothing for the last seven years, The Strokes have been busy releasing “Angles”, “Comedown Machine” as well as touring. So what does the prolific Albert Hammond Jr. have to offer us? Is it going to be similar to Julian Casablankas solo album, in terms of experimenting? Let’s see.

The opener of Momentary Masters, “Born Slippy” is a decent start. Hammond Jr. is in his comfort zone for this track with trickling poppy guitar riff and a bass guitar that acts in a call and response style to the riff almost driving the song on. The production style is very clean but there just doesn’t seem to be much else to this track and far from unique in this era. The next track, “Power Hungry” doesn’t quite work either (it sounds like a more echoed version of an Ian Dury song). The song tries to sell a dark and mysterious tone that just doesn’t click. The guitars seem to be doing too much (it’s even got a kind of Johnny Marr funk to it) whilst his light-hearted vocals clash with the tone he’s trying to create. Having said that, his next attempt at getting into that kind of dark atmosphere is spot on. “Coming to Getcha” utilises synths and his vocals in a much more creepy and haunting fashion. It gives you a real sense of claustrophobia, that the net is closing in and to top it off Albert finishes the track with a fantastic guitar solo that makes the track even better.

Who does Hammond Jr. refers to as “Momentary Masters”? In tracks like “Caught By My Shadow” and “Razors Edge” he seems to mean bands that he inspired like The Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines respectively. “Caught By My Shadow” (possibly the most Arctic Monkeys-esk title ever) sounds like something that would have fitted very well on their second LP, Favourite Worst Nightmare. He even drops in a little guitar solo that is straight out of AM as well as some Turner style witticisms. The lyrics may not be as imaginative as Turners but he holds his own in the song writing department. In “Razors Edge” he reminds us that bands like The Vaccines are in large part singing from the same hymn sheet the Strokes wrote years ago. That brand of super charged bubblegum indie-pop is what Hammond Jr has always done so well and does so again.

Albert also channels Tom Petty on “Losing Touch” particularly in the verses and instrumental sections before he unleashes a Strokes “Is This It” style chorus. But the LP finishes with some unsatisfying tracks. “Touche” for instance is just a bad track. It sounds as if each individual element of the song might have sounded great individually (particularly the space style guitar that opens the track) but together it doesn’t quite mesh the way it should. The last two songs suffer partly because he isn’t gifted with the greatest vocal chords on planet earth and the songs are probably more suited to Julian’s style. This is obviously apparent on “Drunched in Crumbs”. The track sounds far too much like a rejected Strokes song but the fact that Hammond Jr can’t hit those high notes like Julian can means the song would have been far better as a group project. “Side Boob” is very similar in this way.

There isn’t a whole lot of experimentation on this LP instead he wears his inspiration on his sleeve particularly in “Caught By My Shadow” and his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”. The LP doesn’t have any amazing tracks that have made you go WTF! Or anything but it’s a better than solid LP that is easily accessible and easily enjoyable.

Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters = 7.5/10

Callum Christie @ChristieCallum

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