Albert Hammond, Jr. – AHJ

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Albert Hammond Jr.’s five-song EP, released on Strokes bandmate Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records, apparently marks an important milestone for him, following a very dark period of his life.

Personal stories and clean slates aside, this still is a very recognisably Albert Hammond Jr. record, incorporating elements from all of his previous output, both as a member of the Strokes and as a solo artist. It interestingly combines the brevity and tautness of early Strokes songs with the band’s sound on their last two records, i.e. a sound that is more production-heavy, electronic music-influenced, “updated” for a post-MGMT, post-Vampire Weekend age. The guitar lines, in particular, tend to be reminiscent of Albert Hammond Jr.’ 2001 song ‘In Transit,’ which appeared on his first solo LP in 2006 (this is particularly noticeable on EP track ‘St Justice’).

This is the kind of record that gets better with every listen, while the songs are very catchy, in the kind of subconscious way where you may be surprised to find yourself humming their melodies at some random time much later.

Throughout, the pace remains fast (the whole EP clocks in at around 15 minutes), while the vocals are very high-strung, and often also high-pitched and/or effects-laden (fuzz on ‘Carnal Cruise’, or hushed/ close miked with echoed consonants and the like, on ‘Cooker Ship’).

A few more interesting details on this EP include, besides the odd early Strokes similarity (e.g. ‘Hard To Explain’ on the chorus of ‘St Justice’), a Guided By Voices vibe (on ‘Rude Customer’), an interesting combination, on track ‘Strange Tidings’, of Vampire Weekend-style riff (an almost cartoony ‘Mansard Roof’-like intro) with an Elliott Smith-esque element in the chorus (circa ‘Ballad Of Big Nothing’), and even a keenness on weird modulations (‘Rude Customer’).

Overall, a pretty tight, fun and energetic record.

8/10

AHJ was released on Cult Records on 8th October 2013.

 

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