Creativity can only be contained for so long before it explodes. As guitarist for The Strokes, Albert Hammond, Jr. already has a very successful outlet to express himself. But Albert needed another one, so he set out to for a solo adventure with his debut album Yours To Keep in 2006. Its success only begged the question as to when Albert would release finally another.
It took the Los Angeles-native five weeks until ¿Como Te Llama? (How does he/she/it call you in Spanish) was finished. The result is that Albert’s sophomore effort does mature into its own, albeit slightly, despite a few hints and similarities to the well-known garage rock sound of his other gig.
In songs where The Strokes sound expansive, Albert chooses a less-is-more approach with his catchy laid-back melodies. Some might call them slow, but Albert’s songs are more casual. At times he grasps fleeting touches of transcendence (more auditory than lyrical) as in the peaceful “Lisa,” or in the dreamlike instrumental “Spooky Couch.” At other times he develops a greater sense of enlightenment (more physical than intellectual) as in the rebellious emo track “The Boss Americana,” or in the pseudo-retro “Victory At Monterey.”
Albert does have some difficulty with reverting to Strokes-like harmonies when he shouldn’t. It’s natural, but it comes off weird when the sound feels like a deliberate attempt to be different, like “In My Room” and “G Up.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing. He does have some success in the opening “Bargain Of A Century” and the summertime tune “Miss Myrtle.”
But ultimately ¿Como Te Llama? doesn’t feel like an Albert Hammond, Jr. album and instead feels like a semi-Strokes one. Is Albert trying too hard to get out of his band’s shadow? Not really. If “Rocket” is any indication, Albert’s time just hasn’t come yet.