Melodies on Hiatus
Albert Hammond Jr
One of this century’s most prestigious guitar heroes, Albert Hammond Jr, released his fifth solo record, Melodies on Hiatus, and his first since 2018’s Francis Trouble.
Hammond Jr. is most obviously known for his spot in the Strokes, but with his latest solo release he continues to establish himself as an incredible songwriter of sunny, nervy, catchy guitar music.
The 19-song record is wrought with collaborations both read and heard, with lyrics being written by Simon Wilcox in collaboration with Hammond Jr., and musical contributions from rapper GoldLink in opener “100-99” and drums and guitar from Matt Helders and Steve Stevens, respectively, on “Thoughtful Distress.”
Providing vocals on interlude “Remember” and closing track “Alright Tomorrow” is Rainsford, whose moments provide Melodies on Hiatus with dramatic, airy breaks from Hammond Jr’s affable demeanor as a vocalist.
“Alright Tomorrow” is one of the album’s many peaks and perhaps the highest of them all. What begins as a standard piano conclusion is elevated by ethereal levels of sparkling synth danceability. It’s a testament to Hammond Jr’s songwriting abilities that a song with very little guitar or his own voice can be so beautiful in its own right, existing in its own universe outside of the musical atmosphere he usually inhabits.
One of the best things about Melodies on Hiatus is how delightfully bright Hammond Jr’s guitar playing often is. His riffs aren’t necessarily happy, but they’re evocative of good feelings better left undescribed. Refer to the chorus in “Libertude,” or the 80s college radio-esque outro of the jangling “Home Again.” The dude can simply write a riff.
In case you forgot, Hammond Jr. has also served as the chief rhythm guitarist of one of the world’s tightest bands for over two decades, and it shows in his record’s restless nature, resistant to jams and breathless at its most frantic.
Such familiarity with his instrument lends itself to other aspects of his musicianship, especially so in vocal harmonies throughout the record. The strongest example of this is the seamlessness in which he sings over, through and within the chord progressions to the chorus of “Downtown Fred,” another of the sprawling record’s highlights.
A member of the Strokes made a great record. Shocking, right? I’ll leave you with Hammond Jr’s own summation of his hourlong musical saga: “This is this guy’s life, sonically.”
Order Melodies On Hiatus by Albert Hammond Jr HERE
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