Review Summary: At least Hammond will be ready to be reminded that he spelt the title wrong.
Come the summer and Albert Hammond Jr quite obviously has nothing much to shout about. Only the most pedantic of people have the pleasure of bashing the guitarist for his apparent newfound hobby – linguistic and grammatical failings. For whatever reason, ¿Cómo Te Llama?
is both a nod and an abuse of the Spanish language, Hammond, seemingly asking us How does he/she/it call you?
instead of the perhaps more conventional What is your name?
Sadly, whatever intentions Hammond made to poke fun at language, he ends up poking fun at himself as fans, confused, stumble across his error. Arguments fuelled over whether what we have here is pseudo-wit that most would have grown out of in translation or simply an ignorant, unrehearsed misstep feel somewhat irrelevant, considering both embarrassments could actually summarise Hammond’s sophomore stab in the dark.
Most sad of all, had the Spanish theme continued for more than three words, maybe he could have done a better job of shaking the demons piled on him by his Strokes priorities. Nothing here can quite do this right – “Bargain Of a Century” could nearly catch the listener off-guard with alien piano tendencies, were it not for the typically governing guitar chords that matched it. The track almost finds the perfect balance needed; Hammond lying his way into his second effort with a track that feigns potential, only to be frustratingly countered with “In My Room” – very much the same track, only without the piano and well, more in the vein of a Room On Fire
B-side than anything. When Hammond is tied down like this, the album feels hopelessly claustrophobic, and devoid of the little sentimental harmonies indicated on his at least distinguishable debut – whatever happened to opening an album with “Cartoon Music For Superheroes”?
Here, though, the man seems to have assembled a tribute-band who are at times terribly indignant to be that tribute-band. When they conform the more bearable and slightly justifiable side of “GfC” comes across, save the old guitar tricks. But if anyone seriously thought experimentation would relieve them, they obviously hadn’t realised how completely worthless that experimentation would prove. “Spooky Couch”, is an example of how to waste seven opportune minutes on a sluggish instrumental that squanders not only the time of the listener, but also its own potential to be the quirkier delight it screams for. Surely something closer to the jazzed-up trumpet outro of “Hard To Live (In The City)” of Yours To Keep
would have proved better than the violins that half-heartedly stumble into action after six minutes of the same (completely unsurprisingly by this time) guitar notes over and over again, as if late for original duties and quickly improvising. Even at his most creative, Hammond shies away from the impulsions of freedom he should absolutely treat himself to.
More than just instrumentals need to be trimmed down or out here, however. “Feed Me Jack Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Peter Sellers” is a ludicrously creative song title for a song that thanks to its initial hashed-up piano notes is ludicrously bad. “G Up” disappointingly feigns genuine energy, with speedy bass and guitar that succumb to lacklustre vocal work. This covers up dire lyrics I know/You might not come with me/But please let me speak of it/I’m not
which are only worsened in quality by the sleazy howl, a hopeful attempt to withdraw these words swiftly. “Lisa” has the nerve to copy the two songs that preceded it while lyrically falling as flat as “G Up” did – You won’t change me/cause I never go/No I never know
a hint as to why Hammond never bothered to rhyme properly before now.
“You Won’t Be Fooled By This” at least does two thankful jobs, which are make us remember how Albert Hammond Jr used to be when the echoes in his voice were fittingly coherent, and to supply an apt anecdote for his second bash. Unfortunately, the only job the album itself
does is diminish thoughts swaying the way of a flowering solo career. It’s not so much that ¿Cómo Te Llama?
always sounds so directly bred from the garage-revival band Hammond springs from, albeit more to do with the proof this far that he has no valuable assets when he attempts to diversify. Though with the biggest characteristic of all, the job the album title does is summarise that Hammond is either too lazy to think of something sneakier than a wrongly conjugated verb, or too happy to hide his songs behind what ¿Cómo Te Llama?
falsely - and obscurely - offers. Still, while The Strokes keep quiet, there’s always time to sort it out.