Albert Hammond, Jr.
Yours to Keep
Record Review by Sarah Jane
The rhythm guitarist of The Strokes (the short one, not the hot one), Albert Hammond II always possessed a darling Latka Gravas sweetness. On his solo debut Yours To Keep Gravas is representin’ “Tenk you veddy much” - from the Anthropologie home furnishings cover art, to the use of Tiny Tim ukulele and Mister Rogers whistling as the veritable instruments of ‘I see you as more of a friend’ in “Call An Ambulance,” to the Culture Club confection “In Transit,” and the Goodnight Moon meets Pet Sounds Fisher-Price xylophone-laden “Cartoon Music For Superheroes”.
The son of prolific ‘70s songwriter Albert “One Moment In Time” Hammond sings of The Strokes’ rejection of his songs as the impetus for Yours To Keep (“Everyone Gets A Star”) - Hammond’s Strokes songwriting resume consists of instrumental fare such as “Swiss Beats,” “Holland,” and “By The Way” - like a pre-pubescent Rod Stewart. Or John Cale in the “Don’t Let Me Down”- influenced “Blue Skies” or the L.A. native’s tightly wound “Little Honda”-style freeways-as-relationship-metaphors of “Back To The 101” (and continues preaching to the choir with the minimalism of The Replacements in “Hard To Live In The City”). Previously released in the U.K., Yours To Keep differentiates itself from the import with two bonus tracks – “Postal Blowfish” (the uncharacteristically amplified guitar is more Breeders than Hendrix), and a faithful cover of Buddy Holly’s “Well…All Right”.
Edging out “In Transit” and “Back To The 101” as the most Strokesean, “Holiday” - with its breezy materialistic ennui – could be called “Shoes,” betch. Albert Hammond II throws down mad My Aim Is True skilz in “Scared” – a track, one of many, benefiting from studio time with The Old Boys Network of LES indie rock: Hammond’s (and The Strokes’) manager Ryan Gentles, Julian Casablancas, The Mooney Suzuki, and Sean Lennon - Hammond’s concordia salus from the exclusive Swiss boarding school Institute Le Rosey. The jazzy (clap…clap, clap) “Bright Young Thing” is the lone track to muster up some emotional oomph – albeit of The Hills Spencer and Heidi variety (“You can’t trust what I say to you. I know they’re all lies – do you?”)