Living in New York City, The Strokes cast a long shadow. When the four piece first hit shelves with Is This It in 2001, critics praised them as messiahs from the Lower East Side, here to save New York City and Rock ‘n’ Roll as a whole. Since then, living up to the hype has been a constant struggle for the band with their following two albums solidifying their signature sound without progressing them at all.

‘Momentary Masters’ By Albert Hammond Jr. Album Review

Enter side projects. While Julian Casablancas, the lead singer, has been more in the spotlight for his collaborations with Daft Punk and for his prog rock side project, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. has released some of the catchiest work of any Strokes member (Stroker?) since First Impressions of Earth, including his newest album Momentary Masters, out today on Vagrant Records.

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The album is concise: ten songs take up only 35 minutes and only two songs break the four-minute barrier. This isn’t a bad thing by any means however as the pacing keeps you hooked and you often find yourself wishing that the songs would loop through a chorus just one more time. The lead single, “Born Slippy” opens with a throbbing bass drizzled with bright, indie pop guitars — “There are more of us than are of them/Every time you stop I begin” sings Hammond in a distinctly Strokes garage rock bounce. Where Casablancas strays as far from the Strokes as possible in solo efforts, much of this album will remind listeners how much Hammond has influenced the sound of the band.

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This is not to say that this is a Strokes album by any means — “Don’t Think Twice” is a largely uninspired Bob Dylan cover that likely wouldn’t even make it to a full band jam — following this song however the album is full of nothing but direct-to-the-gut indie power-pop. “Razor’s Edge” brings the double-time stomp from straight out of the gutter early Strokes work and “Touché” brings heavily distorted guitars to a tightly wound rhythm section, singing that “Now that we’re not perfect, we have to be good” before the whole song devolves into a rhythm guitar fest. Even the second single “Side Boob” which serves as the closing track to the album is a direct Strokes homage — the guitar lead could be copy and pasted into any song from Is This It with minimal changing.

Again though, this isn’t a bad thing. If you’re already a fan of the Strokes, you’ll like this album and maybe it will be enough to hold you over until the band releases the follow up to 2013’s pretty disappointing Angles. Don’t forget to check if Hammond is coming to a city near you on his U.S. tour this fall. 

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