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Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters


Albert Hammond Jr. is a man whose solo work is put under severe levels of scrutiny because of his musical pedigree: son and namesake of a highly distinguished and decorated musician, and a key figure in the success of one of the most influential bands of a generation – in one sense it’s a badge of honour; in another, an encumbering lineage. It’s fair to say that previous albums, although competent, haven’t quite lived up to those somewhat daunting standards.

The album’s first single, ‘Born Slippy’, opens proceedings, and is very different to the now 20-year-old track from Underworld, forever synonymous with Trainspotting.  Evocative of the intro to ‘Macho Picchu’ from The Strokes’ 2011 album Angles, it’s a nod to seminal New York insouciant punks Television and acts as the rehabilitative counterpart to the original track’s consecration of hedonism. The more candid ‘Caught by my Shadow’ has chugging bass and prodding guitar lines redolent of early Arctic Monkeys, particularly ‘Brianstorm’ by the Sheffield outfit.

‘Coming Getcha’ is a ponderous effort with tidy guitar interplay as he states: “Just because we’re part of the same scene/Doesn’t mean we share the same dream.”  On ‘Touche’ he adopts the muffled, worn-in distorted vocal used to great effect by Casablancas, but it comes off meek: lines like “now that we’re not perfect, we have to be good” aren’t visceral or aggressive enough to draw you in, which is why it ends up sounding like a mild-mannered American singing a tune The Enemy might have rejected.  ‘Razor’s Edge’ ramps up the energy levels, as frenzied drumming is accompanied by tight and at times intricate guitar-play and fiery vocals, with lyrics tackling the issues of addiction he’s overcome.  Bob Dylan cover ‘Don’t Think Twice’ perfectly captures the wholesome honesty in Hammond’s music that makes him such an alluring musician. With a questionable title, ‘Side Boob’, (sounding like a Top 10 that might feature in a lads’ magazine) bounds straight in, like Interpol on amphetamines and providing a lively conclusion to the album.

As alluded to at the outset, many musicians find it hard to reignite that elusive spark from inaugural bands that resulted in their stratospheric rise; rock legends like Keith Moon and ‘Your Majesty’ Mick Jagger, and even virtuosos like Geri Halliwell and Brian McFadden struggled in their pursuit of solo success. Albert Hammond Jr. is a great musician, of that there is no doubt; he has stated in the past that The Strokes should have capitalised on their success, toured more and revelled in the adoration they had earned as 21st-Century rock icons/revivalists – and in many ways his albums have done more to adhere to their original mantra.  You can’t help but wonder if Casablancas loosened his grip on The Strokes and genuinely allowed for collaboration with AHJ, that together they could produce an album capable of rivalling Is This It.  There’s nothing to dislike particularly about Momentary Masters: there’s warmth and fragility in his voice and, as you’d expect, guitar rhythms are supremely taut and his flair ever-present, but at times lyrics are found wanting and it can come across as innocuous and workmanlike. Garrett Hargan