Yours To Keep is the solo album from Albert Hammond Jr, the guitarist of the strokes. It's always interesting to see someone from highly praised group go out on his own. It can do a lot of things for that someone and fortunately for Albert Hammond, Jr. it's a breakout of the talent he has. He's apart of one of the biggest rock bands and his father is a well known musician. Obviously without question he's coming out of some pretty big shadows. But the album shines very bright by the amount of talent and by how upbeat it is.
It's far too easy to compare the music he makes on his own to the band he is in. Yours To Keep however has a completely different feel from a strokes album. The first song "Cartoon Music For Superheroes" is a lovely introduction that sums up the atmosphere of the album. It's not one of the strongest tracks but one of the cool things about the song is that it has this strange melody that you might have heard from a toy you had as a kid. Almost as if your mother sang you the song to go to sleep as a baby. But in leads nicely into the catchy "In Transit". This along with "101" are probably the closest to sounding like a strokes song. "In Transit" actually started off as a strokes song. It's one of the reason Albert Hammond did this album since The Strokes refused alot of the songs he came up with for them. But his songs don't really need The Strokes. But the album does have some help from Sean Lennon and strokes singer Julian Casablanca who plays bass on "Scared".
It's a great summer album but beyond that this album has a lot of longevity to it. I got the album the day it came out on March 6th and I have not stopped listening to it. I can't tell the amount of times I've played this album over and over. The entire album is big on melody and harmony in a way it reminds you of the Beach Boys. In fact the album kinda has this California summer sprit behind it. "Bright Young Things" is one my favorite songs off of the album that catchy in a more quiet way. But it's got a bit of grove going on at the same time to it. "Blue Skies" is also one of the best songs off of the album. It for some unknown reason comes off a bit like an acoustic Oasis song and it has one of the best chorus out of the album that gets out the sentiment of a missed opportunity in love. It's also one of the more enduring songs too. Then we have "101" or "Back To The 101" as it is known in the UK. It's the most rocking and catchiest song. 101 is the type of song that you would sing driving down a highway with the window down. It's also shows a big theme on the album of someone trying to get himself back on the right path.
The next 2 songs after it are "Call An Ambulance" and "Scared". The surprising thing about those 2 songs is how they kinda sound like Beatle songs which I didn't expect Hammond to do but it's one of the nice surprises on Yours To Keep and he pulls it off. "Call An Ambulance" sounds a bit like a McCartney song and "Scared" one of the best songs on the album is a has a cool Harrison-esq rift in it. Plus it has some pretty great harmonies behind it. "Holiday" is somewhat similar to 101 in that it's also the type of song that perfect for listening to driving with the window down. A bit repetitive but overall the song is strong and great.
Yours To Keep is an impressive little package. There is some filler on it but after listening to it, it made me look forward to another solo album from him as much as I look forward to another strokes album. Hopefully we'll see more of Albert's input on the next strokes album. It's really nice to see a rock album that easily flows the optimistic sprit behind it into the listener. It's a short album but the US version comes with 2 addition songs that are covers of Buddy Holly and Guided By Voices songs so it's a great deal all around. This album cut through any preconceived notion of it being just like the strokes. It's an excellent show of talent and optimism that isn't oversaturated and genuine at it's core. It's lightens the shadow cast by The Strokes and reveals the surprising talent and ability of Albert Hammond Jr. who has casted a bright path for himself with and without The Strokes.
Recommended Songs: In Transit, Bright Young Thing, Blue Skies, 101, Scared, Call An Ambulance and Holiday.