Album Review: Albert Hammond Jr - 'Francis Trouble'
First releasing a solo album over ten years ago, Albert Hammond Jr is now back with his fourth, ‘Francis Trouble’, and it might just be the best one yet!
Everyone knows him as “the guitarist from The Strokes” but it’s time we stop referring to him as that and give him the recognition he deserves as a solo artist. After living in the light of singer Julian Casablancas for way too many years, new album ‘Francis Trouble’ sees Albert Hammond Jr really proving he was made to be a front man. Whilst the rest of the band are working on their own projects, AHJ has taken the time to really discover himself and is now absolutely owning it as a front man. It’s taken him four solo albums, and with this being his most personal album yet, it appears he truly has found his own style and the association with the hugely successful band is almost fading.
After seeing Albert Hammond Jr headline Live at Leeds in 2014 and there being something just not quite right about his set (whether that was him walking off early due to the crowd chanting Last Nite by The Strokes, or him just not quite being into it), it’s amazing to see him back looking more self-assured and full of confidence. More recently we caught Albert Hammond Jr supporting Franz Ferdinand on their UK tour, coming out as a front man means he is a new act, and we need to appreciate that. A few years have past and now fans of one of the most significant bands of this generation are finally giving him a chance on his own. The Albert Hammond Jr we see in 2018 is a very different one to back then, his energetic performance and confidence on stage is both admirable and amazing to see.
Seeing his live performance makes it evident that AHJ has grown as a person throughout the years, but what’s more noticeable is his musical influences and styles have changed too. His raw yet distinctive voice is versatile but still recognisable from previous solo albums. The new album holds the nostalgic sound of his first ‘Yours to Keep’ but also includes the experimental side of his 2015 release ‘Momentary Masters’, combining both styles to create ‘Francis Trouble’.
Opening with ‘DvsL’, the energetic track is the type to turn ears from every direction. With each song having this ear turning approach, one and a half songs in I already knew that this was a great album. No doubt about it the rest of the album includes some wonderfully put together songs, with stand-out tracks like ‘ScreaMER’, ‘Far Away Truths’, ‘Harder, Harder, Harder’ and lead single ‘Muted Beatings’. It’s strange because bands who have previously listed The Strokes as their influence, now appear to be influencing the sound of Albert Hammond Jr’s new album, and that’s a remarkable discovery. With ‘Francis Trouble’ demonstrating similar sounds comparable to bands like Cage The Elephant and We Are Scientists, it’s proof that AHJ is authentic and willing to show progression in his career.
As well as experimenting heavily with different styles, this album also has a hidden meaning, which ultimately changes the way you listen to it. The name of the album ‘Francis Trouble’ comes from his twin brother named Francis, who sadly miscarried before the birth of Albert in 1980. Although Francis isn’t here today he has always remained a huge part of Albert’s life and was the main influence for the new album. With opening up this has created a new direction for Albert Hammond Jr, one which has hugely impacted songs. Regardless of the slightly melancholic inspiration for the album, it has to be said that ‘Francis Trouble’ is bloody brilliant. Whilst onstage AHJ knows what he’s doing and he knows that what he is doing is good. I know that this album will go down a treat whilst touring, especially amongst previous back catalogue. Hopefully this will finally give Albert Hammond Jr the recognition he deserves as a solo artist.
Although more solo albums only diminish the possibility of a new album from The Strokes, we shouldn’t really care because in the mean time we get to enjoy this new and improved Albert Hammond Jr. Go and listen to ‘Francis Trouble’ because it really is a masterpiece, I’m excited to see where this will take AHJ and you should be too.
Words by Abbie Jennings
Albert Hammond Jr will release his fourth solo studio album. Francis Trouble on the March 9th.