Albert Hammond Jr. - ¿Cómo Te Llama?
Record Label: RCA Records (USA) / Rough Trade Records (UK)
Release Date: July 7, 2008 (UK)
"Is this it ?" I asked myself after listening to Albert Hammond Jr.'s debut album Yours To Keep, an album that unexpectedly started Hammond's solo career while The Strokes were on hiatus. The disc had a simple approach with exceptional songs that made it a personal favorite of mine last year, but more than anything else, it showed the remarkable promise and skill Hammond has as a songwriter. The response to Yours To Keep must have made him realize where he and his songs could go, and ¿Cómo Te Llama? is the result.
¿Cómo Te Llama? ("What's Your Name?" if your Spanish is rusty) is the real arrival of Albert Hammond Jr. as a solo artist as it is a lot more of a focused effort this time around. "Bargain Of A Century" nicely opens the album with a good intro but the rest of the song is somewhat uneven. "In My Room," however, picks thing up nicely with one of the most catchy rock songs on ¿Cómo Te Llama?. "In My Room," along with the snappy "GfC," show off a new level of confidence of Hammond's musicianship with strong melodic guitar hooks and great arrangement. Though everything that was uneven with "Bargain Of A Century" was done completely right with "Lisa." Starting off with a excellent drum machine beat, The song does a great job juxtaposing majestic verses with a commanding chorus; "Lisa" has a charm to it that makes it a stand out track.
"Rocket," a heavily distorted song, works surprisingly well as a catchy song, but suffers from repetition. "Victory At Monterey" has a particular hypnotic bass line that might make Spoon a little jealous, as the groove of the song serves as a foundation, but never over-saturates the song itself. "You Won't Be Fooled By This" is an great ballad, that carries a haunted sense of sincerity; Hammond's vocals can sound a bit strained, but here it's done with a smooth and harmonious effect. "Spooky Couch," a 7-minute long instrumental, is brave song considering it's always a risk doing something like that - especially on a rock album - but rather than be an obstacle, it's a significant moment on the album; the song echoes like a soundtrack to an aquatic dream. Though it's mostly quiet, "Spooky Couch" feels like a big song that ends with a fantastic orchestral finish. Some could think it drags the album, but you have to appreciate the effort.
There are some songs that could have been left off in favor of a more cohesive album. But even so, the songs are still good but just require a little digging to find what's appealing about each one. "Borrowed Time" shows off a reggae influence while sounding like a track off of the Strokes' Room on Fire. "Miss Myrtle" has an light and easy atmosphere with a charming vocal delivery; "Feed Me Jack or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Peter Sellers" has got to be one of the best names for a song I've ever heard, but doesn't quite live up to the imagination of it's track title. The song is nicely narrated like the end of a bedtime story, but looses it's luster towards the end; the song is a good, but muddled, end to ¿Como Te Llama?.
The second album by Albert Hammond Jr. has built upon the feelings I had when I heard Yours To Keep. While it doesn't have the same impact, ¿Cómo Te Llama? does an amazing job at being a catchy and sincere rock album with inventive songs at all of the right spots. As interest in a new Strokes album keeps building as more time passes on, the impression Hammond's music has made should not be looked over. "Is this it ?" I once asked myself - I sincerely hope not.