Cómo Te Llama?

Patchy second solo effort from Strokes guitarist

With his charming 2006 debut Yours To Keep, Albert Hammond, Jr. demonstrated not only his flair for songwriting – a talent that’s perhaps unwittingly smothered by his role as Strokes guitarist – but also a keen ear for picking out a pleasant indie-pop melody. Surprisingly for some, that first solo album recoiled from his usual gritty, angular fare and delivered a record that was enjoyable, if not groundbreaking.

Perhaps that’s why his second effort sees the Los Angeles-born musician give his songs a more experimental feel; Cómo Te Llama’s style deviates from indie rock orthodoxy in a way that its predecessor never quite managed to.

The tried-and-tested ‘gentle indie-rock’ formula is still present, and tracks like ‘In My Room’, ‘G Up’ and ‘Gfc’ are all executed in a likeable fashion – yet Hammond’s at his most resourceful when he dabbles in methods that result in heavy, grimy basslines (the dark ‘Rocket’), swirling, hypnotic, pop-rock (‘Victory At Monterey’) or feedback-doused piano pop (‘Feed Me Jack’). The occasional splicing of genres and tempos are fab when they work (‘Borrowed Time’s reggae swing-meets-all-American-college rock), but unconvincing hotpotches when they don’t (‘Lisa’).

The fact that Hammond can’t actually sing that well is rendered practically obsolete on this album; his hazy drawl may not be the strongest in the world, but it suits these songs just fine. That Strokes hiatus? Take your time, lads.

Key Track: ‘Victory At Monterey’

 

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