Remember when George Harrison broke from The Beatles, and suddenly everyone discovered that he could write real good songs when he wasn’t hiding behind the shadows of his more prolific mates? Or when Grohl formed the Foo Fighters and sprang instantly into a fully formed rock star? Well, if there was any doubt that Albert Hammond, Jr., belongs with such company, erase that doubt now!
Albert Hammond, Jr.’s debut solo project, “Yours to Keep,” was one of my favorite albums of 2006, and I still find myself drawn to it again and again. “Como Te Llama” is a little less pop and a little less focused, but is otherwise much like his last album: Straightforward rock and roll, without the alt-grit that punctuates every Strokes album, solid vocals and lyrics, great guitar work, and songs that could be a hit for anyone. Hammond nimbly navigates between Strokesy postpunk (“Rocket”) and more classic ska-punk (“Borrowed Time”), and the obvious indiepop points between (“Bargain of the Century” has a classic rock feel; “Miss Myrtle” is indie rock to the core), but there’s other, more challenging material here as well. The instrumental “Spooky Couch,” for example, which features Sean Lennon on piano, is a mesmerizing side trip from what you’d expect to find here (including a string section!).