ALBERT HAMMOND JR ‘Momentary Masters’ CD

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Albert Hammond, Jr.‘s solo career has evolved over the years, moving from the almost accidental brilliance of Yours to Keep to the sharp focus of the AHJ EP. Momentary Masters is his finest work since his debut, albeit for very different reasons; here, Hammond, Jr. builds on AHJ‘s clarity in ways that feel equally deliberate and fresh. As on that EP, he reunites with producer Gus Oberg and riffs on the sound he made famous with the Strokes: “Losing Touch” is a piece of irresistible new wave guitar pop that would be a standout with his other band, while “Born Slippy” (not a cover of the Underworld classic) chugs along on spring-loaded riffs and surprisingly graceful melodies. While there’s always been a bittersweet undercurrent to his music, Hammond, Jr.‘s songwriting is more distinctive and poignant than ever on Momentary Masters. These portraits of loss and change have a newfound urgency, thanks to their restless arrangements and nervy vocals, whether the mood is melancholic, as on “Coming Getcha”‘s emotional gridlock, or confrontational, as on “Caught by My Shadow” and “Touché,” which boasts the bon mot “Now that we’re not perfect, we have to be good.” Hammond, Jr. even puts his own stamp on one of the great farewell songs, Bob Dylan‘s “Don’t Think Twice,” by giving it an insistently swinging beat and fuzzed-out guitar solos that add an extra sting to its prickly goodbye. Touches like these make Momentary Masters some of the most accessible and personal music of Hammond, Jr.‘s career, with or without the Strokes.