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Albert Hammond, Jr.- Como te Llama (Album Review)

Ever since their second album, the Strokes have been accused of writing songs that all sound the same: terse, fussy and precise. Even when the band feigns disheveled detachment, its music hugs tighter than hipster denim.

On his second solo outing, evidently underused guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. takes a more relaxed approach. If the Strokes are the quintessential ’00s New York City band, “Come Te Llama?” is a Los Angeles record, something to play at a barbecue or — even more unthinkable to Manhattanites — riding in a car.

Hammond hasn’t altogether ditched his band’s choppy playing—he simply augments it with tempo changes and genre-shifting digressions. “Lisa” starts with a drum box and downbeat piano chords before falling into a summery reggae groove. On “Victory at Monterey,” about winning back an old flame, Hammond bites the bass line from the Breeders’ “Cannonball,” working it into an indie-rock dance number.

Better still is “Rocket,” a slow rumble of distorted chords that burns fuel but never launches. Hammond’s lyrics and vocals aren’t as distinctive as those favored by Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, but the guitarist’s music breathes in ways Strokes songs don’t.

It’s the difference between a cramped East Village apartment and a house in the hills.