Vulture Hound has been looking back at 10 albums which turn 10 years old in 2016. This week Ben Adsett wishes Albert Hammond Jr‘s debut solo album, Yours To Keep a happy 10th birthday.
The year was 2006; the indie music scene, which had seen a revival at the start of the new millennium, was slowly stagnating. The Strokes were central to its revival, with Is This It in particular, cemented as a modern classic. The band just so happened to be on hiatus when the stagnation began, but this may be coincidental. During this hiatus, however, Albert Hammond Jr became the first ‘Stroke’ to put out a solo record, and even after ten years Yours to Keep is still a masterpiece.
The release of this record came as a bit of a surprise. AHJ was never at the forefront of The Strokes when it came to songwriting, so this ability seemed to come out of nowhere. It’s a record is full of whimsy and really flows as a complete piece of music. From start to finish moods change and transition between songs expertly. There’s a freshness to it too, even a decade later, with its incredibly open exchange, both lyrically and musically.
Guitars soar and gently drift in and out of angular and gentle sounds, creating the back drop for emotive vocals with the perfect balance of fragility and gravel. This combination is absolutely deadly in its assault on the emotions. For the duration of the record you feel exactly what AHJ makes you feel, and despite the impassioned lyrical style, this record is far from an exercise in sadness and personal emotion, it is tinged with positivity too. The ever floating guitar lines flow like a warm summer breeze, creating a tropical backing to the already wonderful display of song writing. Vocally the gravel and emotion are complimented with saccharin sweet choruses which nod towards The Beach Boys (and beaches in general) and, very occasionally, the garage rock growl of The Strokes.
There are stand out tracks, of course. ‘Cartoon Music for Superheroes’ opens the album in the form of a welcoming lullaby, ‘Back to the 101’ sounds as close to The Strokes as the record gets and ‘Hard to Live (in the City)’ is full of catchy charm, but Yours to Keep really comes into its own as a whole. These three tracks are in no way the full story as this LP has so much to offer.
Looking back on a record can be dangerous; sometimes the record can sound dated or just not sound as great as you remember. This is not one of those times. With a weekend of sunshine on the way I would strongly recommend that you give Yours to Keep by Albert Hammond Jr a listen.
You can read all of the 10 Albums at 10 articles, including those looking at releases by Lamb of God, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Taylor Swift and Beach House, here.