Boisterous, Spry Pop-Rock
Renown guitarist and keyboardist for the Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr., released his third LP titled Momentary Masters on July 31. At its core, this is an album that has allowed Hammond to separate his solo endeavors from his work with indie giants the Strokes. Before this album, Hammond released two other LPs and an EP. Similar to his other solo releases and his work with the Strokes, Hammond has proven time and time again how he is the pulse of his many projects. Throughout the entirety of Momentary Masters, the bass guitar can be heard steadily setting the tone, speed, and flavor of each song. But Hammond is more than that, lest anyone forget, he is a guitar player at heart.
The first track released as a single was “Born Slippy,” which moves with heavy, punchy bass tones and light, feathery guitar licks that dance around one another as Hammond sings in his signature middle-voiced timbre. To be sure, the single track is light-hearted, fun, energetic and the absolute definition of poppy. Most songs on the album seem to fill out in the same way, with punchy bass turned up a bit louder than most mixes, keyboards added to spin the track into pop territory and vocals that are not too difficult so fans can sing along to them easily. However, there are a couple tracks on the album that stick out further than the others.
One in particular, “Caught By My Shadow,” shows a different side to Hammond as it starts with brash, concerted rhythms between drums, guitars and bass. The song moves at an almost staccato pace with occasional keyboard to break the mold. Hammond’s vocals don’t change much, but the song stands out because it’s not a pop song, but rather a rock song. It seems like Hammond was letting himself loose during this track more than others.
Another is “Coming To Getcha,” which presents Hammond at his most experimental on the album. Once again, Hammond keeps his standard ever-present bass to lead the track, but matched with an odd, but intoxicating drum rhythm that lasts the entire song in certain variations. His guitar hums near the end of the song in a catchy, almost songbird-like melody to close the piece. While this song seems to be one of his most diverse on the album, instrumentally speaking, what makes this song unforgettable is his vocal performance. The verses are texturized vocally in such a way that does not let the listener peel their attention away, especially during the chorus where his voice wails with the keyboard collaboratively to make for a tasty performance.
Lyrically speaking, Hammond does not seem to stand out on Momentary Masters. While there are plenty of memorable melodic lines throughout, there are no lyrics that stay tethered to the listener. In fact, most song titles seem to be more memorable than the lyrics themselves. The final track, “Side Boob,” comes to mind.
Though there are plenty of things to enjoy about the album, most songs seem to have the same pop attitude to it. It almost feels like any song on the album could have been picked as the single, as all are so colorfully poppy in texture and sound. However, Hammond seems to have developed his solo performance on this LP more than any of his previous attempts. Each spin of the record leads the listener to focus on different, albeit signatory inclusions by Hammond. The future looks bright for Hammond.