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Yours, to keep,
This review is from: Yours to Keep (Audio CD)
Albert Hammond Jr. is best known as as a valuable member of the Strokes. But don't let that influence your expectations for his solo debut "Yours To Keep." On his own, Hammond turns out a totally different album: a shimmering, creative little pop collection that dips into lean rock'n'roll and vintage sunny pop.
It starts on a note that's very Beach Boys -- sunny, psychedelic-edged, and slightly sleepy. "Goodnight, I said to you goodnight/Dream of all the impossible/And you wake you see/That all these dreams aren't fake/They're real/Not impossible," Hammond croons in a slightly sleepy voice.
All that changes with "In Transit," the most Strokesian of all the songs -- a peppy, uptempo guitar number with slightly rebellious lyrics. But with "Bright Young Things," the style switches back to a circling guitar melody and a sunny musical edge, some folksy ballads, catchy rockers that bloom into peppy pop, toe-tapping acoustic plucks, and ringing songs about vacations in Jamaica.
Despite the variety of styles, Hammond actually does a pretty good job keeping a signature "sound" in these songs -- something a bit happier and slightly wistful than the Strokes. It does have a bit of a split personality, between rock and sunny pop, but I suspect it's something that Hammond will iron out in future albums.
The music has plenty of guitar -- both acoustic and bass -- both in lean sinewy riffs and in circling melodies. But Hammond and a variety of musicians (including Sean Lennon, Julian Casablancas, Ben Kweller, and Sammy James Jr) wrap the songs in a thin layer of other instruments -- tinkly melodica, ukelele, rippling keyboard, and some brass. There's even whistling at one point.
Hammond's voice is kind of scratchy, but it's still pretty pleasant to the ear. And he throws a lot of passion into his singing, whether it's a murmury croon or a belt-out wail. "And you will only hold me/If I will never tell you it would end/And you will never have me/Cause you were only wanting to be friends/And you will always hold out till he gave out."
"Yours To Keep" is a triumph for Hammond -- a solid, shimmering album that straddles between pop and rock. Definitely a good listen, but not for people seeking another Strokes album.