Don't accuse Albert Hammond Jr. of standing still. The Strokes go on extended hiatus? Count on Hammond to throw together a modest solo album and tour behind it. That's essentially the pattern of both Hammond's 2006 debut and the new ¿Cómo Te Llama? Steadiness doesn't guarantee results, though, and the follow-up sounds as expedient as it seems. "The Boss Americana" is the most successful song here, a tune so baldly power-poppy that when Hammond filters his voice to give it that extra-circa-'80 anti-luster, it almost makes up for the fact that the song isn't that great. And so it goes throughout ¿Cómo Te Llama?—neat-enough stylistic run-throughs don't gather enough traction to become exemplars instead of exercises. (The first couple minutes of the delicate instrumental "Spooky Couch" are pleasant enough, but by the time minute seven rolls along, enough's enough.) The results aren't bad, just wan, and they make for one of the most characterless albums of the year.
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