By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The blueprint to Albert Hammond Jr.'s music is rife with red flags: the affinity for '70s pop clichés; the certain cellophane sheen; the saccharine lyrics; the Bono-quality Spanish. And, of course, the ever-looming specter of his "other" band, which is especially hard to avoid when your songs are chock-full of Strokes signifiers: snapped snares; twitchy guitar sounds; sweetly parabolic melodies; and a romantically lethargic vocal delivery that's only a grade of coarseness away from that of Julian Casablancas himself. Actually, Hammond's approach to song aesthetics—basic, thin and stylish—is a lot closer to the early-Strokes style the band's fans have lately been demanding than anything the Strokes themselves have recently recorded.
First and foremost, though, he's the son of a songwriter. What's invariably clear on ¿Cómo Te Llama? is that Hammond understands how a popular rock song is made, and how it works: He has an iron-clad grip on traditional forms, writes good melodies with apparent ease, keeps it simple and decorates tastefully with a variety of twirls and twinkles. In particular, "Bargain of a Century" and "GFC" are pleasantly messy, and ¿Cómo Te Llama? is best when the songs seem to shake and quaver within their candy-coated shells. Fittingly, that's when they're at their Strokes-iest.
It's a slippery slope this guy is skiing, but it can be pretty fun listening to him do it.
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