Every successive song by Albert Hammond Jr. feels like a natural progression of itself. For someone whose solo career has stemmed from years of uncertainty with the Strokes, there’s not much uncertain about it. The yearning for yesteryear of Yours To Keep, followed by the vulnerability of Como Te Llama? and the subtle power flexes of Momentary Masters all tie together a narrative that just makes sense. It’s a sound consisting of raw explosive energy and lines delivered like punches. Hammond Jr. has never had much to hide. “I used to shoot cocaine, ketamine, heroin 20 times a day,” he told NME in 2013. For a long time, that’s just the way it was.
“Muted Beatings” is just that – a violent rage of assertions, twisting into heartbreakingly honest guitar work and “I don’t care.” There is something that aggressively grabs you here, and for 3:16 minutes, refuses to lose it’s grip. It’s to be expected from Hammond Jr., whose always had the ability to turn a chord progression into a cry, but it’s still jarring to realize how unconditionally out of control you are, if only for a moment. “I’m catching muted beatings in my lungs, you had the guilt in my head, you zipped me up in the bag.” It’s infectious. It makes you want to dance, it makes you want to cry, it makes you want to fight, maybe all at once.
Hammond’s new record deals with the deeply personal loss of his twin brother. Francis was lost due to miscarriage, yet Hammond continued to grow inside his mother’s womb for six months undetected. As a result, Francis Trouble is “a homage to both the death of his twin and his own birth, as well as the complexities of identity that arise because of their intermingling.”Francis Trouble by Albert Hammond Jr. is out 3/9 via Red Bull Records.