When Albert Hammond Jr. released his first record, I was completely skeptical. Could the guitar player step outside of his work with The Strokes and go it alone, successfully? The answer was an astonishing yes! That record filled my ears with gem after gem of sunny pop tunes. The new question was could he maintain that on his newest effort? Could he make me question the genius behind his other band once again?
Yes and no.
The opening track, “Bargain of a Century” comes in with swelling guitars, and what sounds like some bass lines stolen from the closet of his old band, added with a flare of piano. The vocal effects are all very reminiscent of his last effort, yet also quite like his pal Julian Casablancas. This song sets the pace for the rest of the record, demonstrating that at his best, Albert can write a really infectious tune.
The next two songs are good enough, but I go through them time and time again without really holding on to any redeemable quality. This isn’t to say that these are bad songs, for surely someone will enjoy them, but I just kind of found them as filler, holding time before we get to the next track.
Now, “GfC,” the fourth track is the single from this album, or the first one at least, and deservedly so. Every time I listen to this track, I immediately want to push repeat. A song like this shows just what a great songwriter Albert actually is; he’s a forced to be reckoned with more often than not. My head bobs, the wind blows in my hair, and all I can do is grin like a child. Beautiful.
Once again you find yourself at an impasse. The next few songs don’t pack the punch you’ve grown used to by this point. He seems to have missed a step with these songs, but I urge you to proceed through these songs with open ears because the chorus on “Rocket” is a superb moment in a fairly subpar song, which I suppose makes this song wonderful in its own way. Chills creep down my skin each time those guitars come blasting in to my speakers.
Hidden in those tracks is “You Won’t Be Fooled by This,” which is a track that most closely resembles his work in that other band . It’s a classic song, and it makes me wonder if Albert is just better off to go it alone. Really.
“Spooky Couch,” is an awful song. It is a seven minute instrumental tune that adds nothing to the album. I am not sure why its on here. Please skip this song.
Albert steps up the pace again after that yawner. He proceeds through the next few tracks with fervor, and possibly too much. A little more focus would have made those songs as memorable as the earlier tracks on this album.
And then we come to a close ladies and gentlemen with “Feed Me Jack…” which is as close to a classic ballad as this fellow has come. It might not be the best ballad of all time, but I like it for the fact that he went another direction entirely, using this song to display just how strong his voice is. It’s lacking lyrically, but a good solid step.
You see, Albert Hammond can write some amazing songs. He doesn’t need that other band to establish his credibility, but the weaknesses of this record hint that if there were a few more members battling against his ideas, then we might just have another great record in our future. All in all, Albert stands on his own, continuing to show us that he is force to be reckoned with in the pop world; all on his own. Dig it.
Below is the single we posted a long long time ago “GFC”:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/04-gfc.mp3]