Yours to Keep, the solo debut from Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., will undoubtedly be placed in the context of the Strokes, and for good reason. According to the NME, part of the impetus for making this album was the motherband rejecting many of Hammond’s songs. And if Hammond was only the son of a famous songwriter, you could definitely hear a Strokes influence evident on the album. You would also hear a very solid CD. Owing a lot to the ’50′s pop of artists like Bobby Darin, it is a fun, simple, laid back album that doesn’t have the same aura of ‘cool’ that permeates throughout Strokes records. Hammond sounds like a guy who just wants to play his guitar and sing some songs, not much more.
The stand-out track on the album is certainly “101.” It is irresistibly catchy with good guitars and a big, sing-along chorus. The one downside to the song may be the female vocals that join Hammond, rising out of the background, and serve more as a distraction from the guitars at first, and when the two sing in unison, just feel too much like a top 40 pop song. Another stand-out is the first bonus track, “Postal Blowfish,” which is undeniably a rock song. It has big drums and big guitars, and is still catchy as hell. On “Scared,” Hammond sounds directly from the ’50′s bubblegum era until the chorus, which is dark and moody.
The one major knock against the album is that Hammond does not seem to know when to end songs. Often times, he will finish with the lyrics and the instrumentation of the song, then just play something totally different. This is especially evident on “Hard to Live in the City,” which ends with a brass section not heard anywhere else in the album, and almost sounds like a ska song, which is the last thing you want to hear on this record. All in all, it’s not hard to tell that Hammond came from the Strokes, but it’s even easier to enjoy Hammond, with or without the support of Julian Casablancas and co.