The Strokes might have just released Comedown Machine a mere two years ago, but it’s been seven years since their rhythm guitarist, keyboard player and backing vocalist Albert Hammond Jr. last set out on his own to record his second solo album ¿Cómo Te Llama?. While ¿Cómo Te Llama? was an album whose sound often varied wildly between songs, the new album Momentary Masters has a much more defined identity, being a much more concise album with a set power pop style and a hint of The Strokes’ sound to finish it off. It’s also considerably stronger than any of his previous solo ventures.
Born Slippy starts the album strong, with its mix infectiously bright guitar riffs as the song opens before moving into a more mature section, almost sounding disconnected but managing to work together; the guitar solo in the middle eight just helps to seal the deal. Caught By My Shadow swaps the bright guitars for something more serious, with the rumbling riffs and increased energy of the song changing the formula just enough to make it feel different and equally enjoyable. Don’t Think Twice stands out among the mid-tempo tracks thanks to its particular use of layered guitars in the instrumental sections, though the nostalgic mood of the verses is an equally nice touch.
It’s on the penultimate track Drunched In Crumbs that the album truly manages to hit its stride. While the guitar sections of the album stand out as the obvious highlights at this point, the main riff here easily puts the rest to shame; the key change in the chorus at the song’s mid-point solidifies its strength, perfectly highlighting the riff’s sudden change to higher notes at the end of the loop. Even putting the guitar aside, the energy and production are both strong enough to back it up, making for a perfect mix.
Taking the entire album into account, Momentary Masters is surprisingly strong. It’s got a good mix of both The Strokes’ style and his own, and it’s a good length too; not short enough to leave a bad impression and not long enough to overstay its welcome. Hammond Jr. has hit a perfect spot in his solo career, finding a sound that suits his voice and lyrics perfectly. Momentary Masters is easily his best solo effort and a defining moment in his career away from The Strokes.