Single Review: Albert Hammond, Jr – Rude Customer

Venturing alone into the wilderness, and leaving The Strokes behind him, for now, Albert Hammond, Jr has returned with his new single ‘Rude Customer’.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year for the fuzzy-haired guitarist. After opening up about his drug addictions, in which he told The Rolling Stone’s Patrick Doyle he spent ‘“a grand or two” on drugs every weekend, Hammond, Jr is keen to let his music do the talking. And talk it does, albeit to the solemn whimsicalness and tippy-tappy beats that Hammond, Jr is accustomed to. With his own touches of fiddly-guitar and lyrical authorship, The Strokes guitarist is still forging his own path following the release of his debut 2006 album ‘Yours to Keep’, and the 2008 follow up ‘¿Cómo Te Llama?’.

There’s no doubting Albert Hammond, Jr’s rock pedigree as both a performer and an artist. With The Strokes, he’s headlined all over the world. In the studio, he’s contributed to some of the finest indie records of the 21st Century. As a solo artists however, Hammond, Jr has had fluctuating commercial success in the charts, with his previous two album releases only peaking at 74 and 183 in the UK.

Creatively though, Hammond, Jr stands out as one of musics underrated virtuosos, and he underlines this notion in his new single ‘Rude Customer’. Comprising a high tempo plethora of indie hooks and punchy percussion, ‘Rude Customer’ oozes class. Taken from the forthcoming self-initialed EP, ‘AHJ’, ‘Rude Customer’ gives a good impression of what breathes within the new EP.

“You ask for the bill / he brings you the change / you ask him to go but you just don’t know his name” bemoans Hammond, Jr as the track opens from the edgy drums and guitar combo and into the vocals. As expected, the track provides all the tight indie rock sequences and formulas that Hammond, Jr has build his career on. Vocally, however, there are phases that are still left to be desired. Understandably, as a guitarist, AHJ is not, by trade, a singer. Although he carries a tune with his own style, comparisons with The Strokes will be rife with fans.

In fact, the AHJ’s solo style, arguably, is all too prescriptive of his work with The Strokes. ‘Rude Customer’ wouldn’t sound out of place on albums like ‘Room on Fire’ or ‘First Impressions of Earth’. And that’s the problem. Despite the quality of the track, the lack of distinction from his parent band hinders the overall impression of his solo work. From an artist who has so much in his locker to draw from, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the single.

The guitars are structured, the percussion is broad and the bass lines are smooth. But, in the end, one must question why Hammond, Jr hasn’t submerged his song-writing into the deeper and darker segments of his year. I wanted to hear the tales of drug abuse, the highs of being on top and the lows of being rock bottom.

Instead, we’re left with another song reminding us of what we miss from 2001.


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