Albert Hammond Jr

Francis Trouble

(Red Bull Records)

Back with his fourth solo studio album, ‘Francis Trouble’, Albert Hammond Jr definitely has something to say. I feel that a little bit of background is required so here goes:

The new record explores a deeply personal topic – the stillborn death of his twin brother, Francis, and the lingering effects that event has had in his life and music.

In November of 1979, Hammond Jr’s mother, Claudia, miscarried. Although they rushed to the hospital, Claudia and Albert Hammond Sr. were told that the baby was far too premature to live. Albert continued to grow inside of his mother undetected until she was nearly six months pregnant.

Although he had always known of the existence of Francis, it was not until he was 36 years old that he learned from an aunt that part of Francis had remained behind in the womb and was born along side him – a fingernail.

For this album the number 36 became especially relevant, as he had learned more of Francis’s story at that age, and because he was born on the 9th day of the 4th month of the year. Significantly, the album is exactly 36 minutes long.

And so here we have ‘Francis Trouble, a total of ten tracks for the world to hear. Let’s press play…

Opener ‘DvsL’ is interesting lyrical as Hammond sings “Rome was built to self-destruct people and their homes” whilst a pleasant birdsong can be heard in the background.

‘Far Away Truths’ has this persistent electric guitar that pierces the song alongside the hypnotic drums and fairground-esque keyboards. It reminds me of early material by British outfit The Kooks at times and it has potential to be popular on radio (if an expletive-free radio edit can be produced)

The lead vocal on ‘Muted Beatings’ sounds distorted as Albert coolly sings “I don’t care” and zooms through to its three minutes and seventeen seconds end time.

‘Set To Attack’ is a highlight that will appeal to people who enjoy The Strokes with its clear vocal and structured guitar solo. Albert Hammond Jr sounds his most comfortable here imho.

‘Tea For Two’ includes an eerie toned electric guitar as Hammond tells the listener “Tell all your friends why we burn at both ends?” I’m not entirely sure what this lyric means for Hammond but I don’t think he has had a dodgy takeaway! Then we have this stunning saxophone solo at exactly two minutes and forty eight seconds that makes the song three-dimensional.

‘Stop and Go’ has a quirky intro that features funky bass guitar and makes me think of summer. It is not what you would call ‘a singalong’ tune but I don’t think that’s what Albert Hammond Jr was going for this ‘Francis Trouble’.

‘ScreaMER’ is aggressive with loud guitar and chugging “woo hoo” that helps the number chug along like a train with no final destination.

‘Rocky’s Late Night’ sounds like a song about ‘acceptance’ as Hammond concludes “I’m not the same as I was before. There is an emptiness that I cannot describe.” I can imagine that the writing process for this track in particular was quite cathartic.

‘Strangers’ has a vibrant musical backing and is a lighter moment is an overall collection of emotional shade. A welcome addition on this record.

Closer ‘Harder, Harder, Harder’ has a rousing guitar flourish like a runner trying to get to a finish line. Not the strongest closing track I’ve heard on an album but the emotion and passion on it is clear.

In conclusion, I am left wondering if maybe the stages of grief were consciously or sub-consciously part of the writing and recording process with ‘ScreaMER’ and ‘Muted Beatings’ symbolising anger and ‘Rocky’s Late Night’ representing acceptance. However, with music they do say write about what you know and I believe that ‘Francis Trouble’ was a form of therapy for Albert Hammond Jr and he would of got more (emotionally and mentally) from that then say researching his family history on ‘Who Do You Think You Are For?’ for example.

It didn’t connect with me as much as I was hoping it would but I appreciate that this probably wasn’t the easiest record to make so all I can really say is that I really hope that ‘Francis Trouble’ helped him find whatever he was looking for.

Glenn Sargeant



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(Thanks to Warren and Simon at Chuff Media for help with this review)

Albert Hammond Jr's fourth studio album 'Francis Trouble' is out now on Red Bull Records. 

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2EcI4KQ

Albert Hammond Jr