As with many collaborative efforts, we sometimes feel held back by members of our own cohort. In some instances, said cohort usually falls apart, but in others solo projects come about; sometimes juvenating something as good, if not better, than the original piece the project derives from. Such cases of this can be found within Neil Young’s career after splitting from Buffalo Springfield, and Father John Misty’s rise to the top of independent music post-Fleet Foxes split. When it comes to Albert Hammond Jr.’s work outside of The Strokes, the music may not be better than his first band, but it is worth checking out. Hammond’s fourth solo album, Francis Trouble, dropped a couple days ago on Red Bull Records and it couldn’t be more welcomed.
After coming from such a prolific band like The Strokes, who helped define the 00’s rock n’ roll, it’d be hard to ignore Hammond’s career without considering his tenure in indie rock. Of course, there are components throughout Francis Trouble that share a likeness to the Strokes, but Hammond bring his own savor to the table. From the first track, DvsL, the guitarist explodes out of the tight, rigorous guitar parts audiences may be more accustomed to with Hammond’s prior music. The melodies sound like The Strokes but the energy is where Albert truly breaks into his own entity. The same freedom-energy can be found rhythmically on songs like Muted Beatings and the drum fills on Stop and Go that are both full of emotive energy rather than the tight-knit vigor on The Strokes albums. It’s here where Hammond succeeds in not only separating himself from the usual crowd, but from his own past work as a solo artist.
With that said, lyrically Francis Trouble leaves its audience wanting more. For someone who’s been seemingly voiceless in one of the bigger bands of the last decade, one would think he’d have more to say, but that’s not the case on the new LP. Vocally, Hammond is a good singer, but lyrics like, “say it matters, if it ain’t from the heart then it ain’t from me, say it matters, your secret is safe when you’re close to me” don’t resonate the way listeners should hope they would.
Overall, Francis Trouble is a good album. The garage rock movement this century was fronted by Albert Hammond Jr.’s musicianship so why shouldn’t his ability be further enjoyed? The record will definitely be regarded as a good party album this year if nothing else and to some artists, that’s enough of a hurdle to get over. The album is also a nod to good guitar playing; a constituent newer rock n’ rollers seem to have lost sight of within the last couple years.
It’s good to break away on your own, if anything it’s self-gratifying to know that you can walk on your own feet. Obviously Francis Trouble isn’t Albert Hammond Jr.’s first attempt at doing so, but it is the first that sounds like his own effort. So here’s to discovering one’s self through solo projects.
Click here to watch the video fro Muted Beatings.
– By Mike Metcalf