Albert Hammond Jr | A Triple Take at Francis Trouble
I first met Albert Hammond Jr in Summer of 2015. It was a beautiful day in London, Hyde Park and we were accompanied by around 65,000 other people. As great as it was to see him, I was crushed against a metal barrier with someone’s cigarette next to my ear. On reflection, it could have been more comfortable.
A few months later I was asked to speak to him on his Momentary Masters’ tour stop in Glasgow. As someone who took an overnight bus from Fife to London to see him perform for one evening, I remember thinking that this definitely wasn’t going to happen. Even after being told I was going to interview the guy, I very much kept my hopes at a minimum.
Even when the tour manager messaged me with an interview time. Even when I was driving to Glasgow from my day job in Edinburgh. Even when I was physically walking into the CCA and was approached by Albert Hammond Jr himself with a plate of carbonara in his hands - I was still against the idea this interview was actually happening. And boy, was I unprepared.
When you’re sat in front of a man who’s guitar riffs have gotten you through high school, its hard to stay normal. Fortunately, everything about Albert is comforting. From his smile, to the way he makes you feel welcome in the selection of green rooms he calls home most evenings. Sitting down to talk to him about music is as easy as pie. Anxious, socially awkward pie.
Three years later, AHJ’s new album ‘Francis Trouble’ is on the horizon (March 9th). After a recent UK tour with Franz Ferdinand and an exciting year ahead, we figured we should give you a heads up on the album.
When Albert’s mother was pregnant, she was expecting twins. Unfortunately, one died and Albert survived. Years later, Albert discovered some further details about his brother which moulded an air of inspiration for this record. ‘Francis Trouble’ is not necessarily about Alberts twin, or a tribute to his short lived life as some may have mistaken. Rather, it’s how the recently discovered information of his brothers existence led to the further development of Albert himself. Even at this stage in AHJ’s life and career, he is constantly learning about himself and shapeshifting. Not only as a musician, but as a person. Francis Trouble is a reminder of the sudden, raw, passionate direction an artist can take.
Compared to the fine finish of Momentary Masters, Francis Trouble has picked up a different lease of energy. It’s as though AHJ has grabbed at colour, raw vocals and guitar chords then wrapped them into a reason to create a great record. With songs like DvsL to kick the album off, with almost Stooges-inspired undertones, Francis Trouble is a perfectly constructed record where unexpected pace and lyricism meet in an unlikely room.
AHJ has always been recognised for his sense of style. From his three-piece burgundy suit to the bold yellow bomber jackets he sports onstage, Francis Trouble is exactly how we imagine AHJ’s wardrobe would sound if it had a voice. There’s variety, there’s colour, there’s class and there’s even something a little tight. But it works. Really well.
Songs like Rocky’s Late Night and ScreaMER show the wingspan of AHJ’s creative direction in this record, especially in his live performances.
Adopting a tongue in cheek persona, he’s everything from charming to intimidating to maybe the most creative uses of a microphone I’ve ever seen. The point is, this man is not of only one stage presence. Through Francis Trouble, AHJ guides you through a variety of personalities and frontman qualities which do nothing short of blowing an audience away.
The most amazing thing is that this album has been sitting, written, recorded and ready for a year. This piece of work has been waiting patiently for its release, valuing itself enough to sit still until the right home (or label) comes along to nurture it. Another example of AHJ’s determination to create something good and not rushed. Everything from the album, to his 35mm music video for Muted Beatings has been a curated piece for our enjoyment.
Albert Hammond Jr doesn’t do anything in half measures, and neither does Francis Trouble.
Singles ‘Muted Beatings’, ‘Far Away Truths’, ‘Set To Attack’ and album Francis Trouble are all out now. Have a wee listen below.