Albert Hammond Jr. Yours to Keep

Albert Hammond Jr. is anything but over the top. He keeps a low profile in his main stage outfit, the Strokes, even though everyone knows those to-die-for licks off the Strokes’ latest, First Impressions of Earth, most likely originated from his crafty little song book. Well, the Stroke with the big hair has something to say! He has a lot to say actually, but he won’t just say it. He dresses little dance-y numbers with a delicate, deadpan vocal delivery and catchy, contagious riffs. In its simplicity, one can get away with calling it "pretty indie rock,” but dig deeper. We’ve got luscious horn sections aplenty ("It’s Hard to Live in the City”), lullaby-esque soundscapes with twinkling stars and fluffy clouds ("Cartoon Music for Superheroes”), as well as some of the most honest lyrical work to ever emerge from NYC. Guest vocalists Sean Lennon and Julian Casablancas (among others) help move the songs along but make no mistake, this is Albert’s show. Does it sound like the Strokes? Yes, yes, it does. But is a Strokes fan an easily definable creature? Just as many hated First Impressions of Earth for its new approach to their well established sound as criticised Room on Fire for sounding too much like their debut. So where does Albert stand? Nowhere, really. Yours to Keep is the story of a humble musician diligently picking up the pieces and sharing his tales. His stories of love, loss, city skies and hope are lying unobtrusively in front of you like an open book. Strokes fan or not, the least you could do is read.

(Red Ink)