Fans hate when their favorite bands progress. It’s weird right? How can people love their favorite bands making the same styled album every couple years? Bands need to change. However, when bands change, they need to have their original form still incorporated into their changes. NYC based post-punk revivalist gods, the Strokes are a perfect example of this.
In 2003, the Strokes released their highly anticipated sophomore album, Room on Fire. Even though the album delivered some killer tracks such as “12:51,” “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” and the band’s anthem “Reptilia,” critics saw the album too close to the band’s superb debut album, Is This It (2001). In response of this, in 2006, the Strokes released First Impressions of Earth and incorporated a heavier style with steamrolling guitars and went deeper into their songwriting. This is evident on tracks such as “Heart in a Cage” and “Ize of the World” (a great precursor of Julian’s future vocals). Critics however, shot it down and hailed it as one of the most disappointing albums of 2006. In an interview with Lizzy Goodman from Vulture, Hammond said, “With Room on Fire, people were giving us shit because they said we were sounding too much the same. With the third album, we were getting shit that we don’t sound like Room on Fire. We got fucked by the same thing twice!” Ever since then, the Strokes were never the same. Each member started working on side projects and the band just didn’t feel or ever sound the way they once did. Being a fan of the Strokes today is like having two divorced parents, who hate being together and spending time with one another is an obligation.
Each member from the Strokes have been pursuing different solo careers. Frontman, Julian Casablancas, got really into neo-psychedelia and electronic rock, which is evident with his group, the Voidz. Guitarist, Nick Valensi, has a band called CRX, who mostly play stoner rock mixed with power pop. None of these sounds obviously fit the Strokes that we all love and crave. However, guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., lately has been really feeding into what Strokes fans have been demanding for years – simple garage rock with a DIY punk attitude. And Hammond’s latest album, Francis Trouble, offers this.
The opener of Francis Trouble, “DvsL” sounds like a mix of the Stooges and Television and this is perfect because the Strokes early in their career, were compared to acts like this. Hammond has always had the Strokes method attached to his solo career. “In Transit” is a great example of how he can sound like an unreleased Strokes track. Sure, Hammond has experimented with his solo work, especially on one of his most recent singles, “Muted Beatings,” – a very new wave track with a bouncy chord progression, but Hammond has never went too far, like his bandmates.
As a solo artist, clearly Hammond admires his dear friend and bandmate, Julian Casablancas. He sounds exactly like Casablancas on “Set To Attack.” And the track, “Strangers” could’ve fit easily on either one of the first two albums.
With other Strokes members on different paths, Hammond seems to be the only one who cares deeply about what the Strokes represent.
Francis Trouble Full Album Review Coming Soon