Albert Hammond Jr. hasn't released any solo material since 2008's melodic ¿Cómo Te Llama?, but now he's back, returning to form with his masterful new EP AHJ. 2009 was the year that Hammond Jr. came out of rehab from a serious drug addiction (at one point, he claimed he was injecting a mind-bending cocktail of cocaine, heroin and ketamine on a daily basis), which left him shaken physically and creatively, hence the solo hiatus. However, two fantastic albums with The Strokes told us that he hadn't been defeated by his demons, and 2013 comes at a great time for his resurgence.

AHJ is released on Julian Casablancas's label, Cult Records, and Julian wasn't just there as a representative but also for moral support in aid of his childhood friend and bandmate, lending an ear to Hammond Jr's songs throughout their life and writing process. This seems to be one of the factors that has helped to truly invigorate the 33-year-old guitarist. 'St. Justice' opens with a twee little guitar melody, typically Albert, intricately fingerpicking his way back into our consciousnesses. "Something you said to me, I can't explain it" he declares, before an unexpected riff that explicitly harks back to Oasis's 'Don't Look Back in Anger'. The song is an interesting juxtaposition: a retro overall feel, with an electronic 80s vibe, whilst nodding to 90s indie (or Britpop, to be precise), all packaged together in a 21st century track. A post-modern slice of pop.

The next song is 'Strange Tiding', which features a haunting (synth? Guitar?) melody that floats overhead throughout the entire duration and is something I found particularly memorable. The real guitar is kept at bay until halfway through when a crunching solo leaps out at you, reminding us all that Hammond Jr. is still the axe-shredding hero we've always known he was. The track is driven by an unusual, stripped down drumbeat that cements his quirky approach to song composing.

'Carnal Cruise' sees Hammond Jr. opt for a baritone delivery in the opening few bars and it sounds fucking great, as he croons his way to the punky, cutting chorus where his vocals become angry and distorted. Most of my favourite performers are baritone vocalists, which probably explains my love of deep, moody and gloomy singing. The bridge is also notable, an almost orchestral interlude before the song crashes back into the chorus, dragged along by urgent, desperate drumming.

Next is the frantic 'Rude Customer', a song in the vein of the Strokes, which doesn't really come alive for me until the signature Albert Hammond Jr. guitar blowout towards the close. It's brilliant and revitalises the song before an abrupt, cheeky, rude (no pun intended) ending. The song doesn't stand out for me too much, kind of breezing by cheerily before the gobsmacking last song. But it makes me want more even still, and I was pining for an album after many repeated listens of AHJ.

The warm guitar tone and the steady, repetitive riff of closer 'Cooker Ship' are both simply euphoric, and when I first heard them, my heart jumped. The lyrics in the verses don't really say much to me, but as Hammond Jr. passionately howls "hey, cooker ship, how did I get in a jam like this?" it really hits a nerve. To me, it conjures up thoughts of his past drug abuse, and how truly fucked up it was. The track could well have nothing to do with this period of time whatsoever, but the word "cooker" is surely no coincidence. "Self-inflicted nightmare, lately I'm just not quite myself" he mumbles, and it kills me. One of the best songs of the year, without a doubt. The song aches with sincerity and sails along to an uplifting climax. His delivery throughout is fantastic and it all makes 'Cooker Ship' a gorgeous, emotional number. Hammond Jr. stated that the Strokes frontman was around a lot for this one, and that when he originally showed Casablancas the song "it floored him."

"Julian was like '[sing]' it higher.' And it sounded a lot better. And I was like fuck. When I sing this live, it'll be my full voice right at the edge of my range. He said 'Just practice.'"

The only frustrating thing about the EP is that it will make any Hammond Jr. fan desperate for a full-length. Recently he told Rolling Stone: "I almost feel like putting out a few songs every couple months might be better than putting out an album every year or two." I think this is a cool idea, but would still really dig an album any time soon. Now that we know the man is back in full force, anything could happen. And I can't wait to see what.