Written by Christian Bischoff
Albert Hammond Jr.’s new album may be entitled Momentary Masters, but his distinctive and visionary musical style has guaranteed his status as an alt-rock mainstay.
On his third full length solo album, Hammond Jr. displays his creativity and skill extend far beyond his contributions as guitarist and keyboardist for The Strokes. The record is at once punchy and melodic, driven by crunchy, lo-fi guitars and tight riffs reminiscent of The Strokes’ earlier work. With Momentary Masters, Hammond Jr. establishes himself as a solo artist in his own right, worth recognizing for far more than his work with the NYC based band. He sings with a self-effacing candor, offering a down to earth humility never proffered by Casablancas at his humblest.
The album comes in at a tight 36 minutes, with most songs sitting comfortably in the three minute range. With just ten tracks, the record is the shortest of solo record he’s put out, and fittingly so. The title evokes Carl Sagan’s remarks on the human struggle for importance and significance in the face of the immeasurable vastness of the universe. In the same light, Momentary Masters could very well be a comment on Hammond Jr.’s experience with the music industry itself, as The Strokes continue their rise and fall alternatively as hipster darlings and forgotten relics in an ever evolving musical scene.
The first track, “Born Slippy,” echoes the ephemeral fame eluded to by the album title. “Sometimes the sun goes behind the clouds/ You forget the warmth that could be found/ […] / If you hear a knock on the door at night/ It has come to stay and steal the light.” Despite the melancholy subject matter, the track itself has an incredibly upbeat tone, driven by bright guitars and uptempo drum work.
Unsurprisingly, the riffs and guitar work on the album are spectacular. The album itself is not driven by lyrical hooks or vocal fireworks. Instead, Hammond Jr. makes his talent with a guitar the bedrock of Momentary Masters. Overall, the album is a success, a fantastic follow up to 2008’s Como Te Llama?, albeit more in the vein of his more recent EP, AHJ. The album is a condensed, crunchy treat, flavored with memorable guitar riffs and an honest tone. While there are some low spots, overall the album is a fantastic high.